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The Kalispel Indians

The Kalispel Indians

The Kalispel Indians once occupied a long and narrow territory, which stretched from the Flathead lake of Montana, through Idaho, and into nearby Washington state.

And the Kalispel were also part of Canada, like many of their linguistic relatives, since a small part of their western lands extended north into the Salmo river of what is now southern Canada.

The Montana Kalispel

The Kalispel of Montana lived in the uppermost reaches of the greater Kalispel river drainage. Today, the major lake of these easternmost Kalispel is called the Flathead lake whose southern shores are controlled by the Flathead Indian Reservation where the eastern Kalispel live.

The river draining west from the lake is called the Clark Fork river. The Montana Kalispel were called the Upper Kalispel by some American historians, because they occupied the upper drainage of the greater Kalispel waterways.

The Idaho Kalispel

Lake Pend Oreille of northern Idaho, was the homeland of the Idaho Kalispel who were called the Lake Kalispel by some American historians.

All of the Kalispel living on Lake Pend Oreille and nearby streams were exiled from this region, after the signing of the Sandpoint Treaty of 1887. Some of the Lake Pend Oreille Kalispel families went into exile upriver, and their descendants now live on the Flathead Reservation. Other families went downriver, and their descendants now live on the Kalispel Reservation near Usk. And a third faction went south to join relatives on the Coeur d'Alene Reservation, where the people speak a closely related Salish language.

The Kalispel of Washington State

The waters that drain from the big lake in Idaho called Pend Oreille, flow westward into the nearby state of Washington. The Kalispel living in Washington are called the Lower Kalispel by some Americ historians, because they occupy the lower drainage of the ancient Kalispel nation.

Many of the Kalispel of this region live on the Kalispel Indian Reservation, which is located across the river from Usk, Washington. See Usk for further information on this segment of the Kalispel population.

The Spokanes, southern neighbors of the western Kalispel, were intermarried with the them and were close allies as were their Salish-speaking neighbors to the west such as the Kettle and Okonogan tribes.

BITTERROOT The Salish speaking peoples who lived in the southeastern area of the upper Kalispel river drainage, were sometimes called the Bittertoot Valley Indians. But most often they were simply called The Salish or the Flathead. In ancient times, this valley was mostly Kalispel in population. But after the French began supplying rifles to the Algonquain rivals of the Kalispel, the local Kalispel invited more and more downriver Salish relatives to join them in this valley, which served as the 'gateway' into the Buffalo Plains of Montana. Only by traveling in large numbers, could the Salish dare to hunt on the buffalo plains. By the second decade after the first American intrusions into this region, this population was very mixed with large numbers of newly arrived Salish speaking immigrants from as far away as the Okonagons. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the Bitterroot peoples were intermarried with the Shaptini (Nez Perce).

CLARK FORK RIVER The part of the greater Kalispel river drainage that is located just upstream from Lake Pend Oreille is called the Clark Fork river by the Americans. The uppermost reaches of this drainage are called the Flathead and Missoula by the Americans.

FLATHEAD An American term, used to refer to Salish speaking peoples generally. The term refers to the practice of some western [coastal] Salish speaking peoples of flattening the forehead. When the first Europeans visited the western Kalispel and their allied Salish-speaking neighbors in the Bitterroot valley, they called them Flathead because they spoke a Salish language [and reminded the Americans of their linguistic cousins on the Pacific coast, who flattened their heads]. The Kalispel and Bitterroot Salish did not flatten their heads, but the American nickname persisted among bureaucrats, so that the modern reservation in Montana is called the Flathead Reservation.

KALISPEL A Salish speaking people who occupied the greater Kalispel river drainage, prior to the expansion of Americans into the region. The Kalispel are typically divided by American historians into the Upper [Montana] and Lower Kalispel [including the Lake Kalispel living in the area of Lake Pend Oreille, and the Calispel Valley (including Chewelah) subdivisions. The border between the Upper and Lower Kalispel is generally located by scholars at Horse Plains (Montana).

KALISPEL: EASTERN The eastern division of the Kalispel, often called the Upper Kalispel by Americna scholars because they lived in the upper regions of the greater Kalispel river drainage. See Kalispel Upper for related discussion.

KALISPEL: WESTERN The western division of the Kalispel, often called the Lower Kalispel by American scholars. They occupied the lower regions of the greater Kalispel river drainage. See Kalispel: Lower for related discussion.

KALISPELL A large town in Montana, named after the Kalispel Indians who once resided on that part of the Flathead lake.

LAKE KALISPEL The Kalispel who lived on the Pend Oreille lake in northern Idaho, and nearby drainages in Montana and Washington states. They were a subdivision of the Lower Kalispel. See Calispel Valley for the other major subdivision.

LOWER KALISPEL The Kalispel who lived downriver from Horse Plains (Montana), in the region that is now Montana, Idaho, and Washington State.

SALISH A large language family of native Americans, who lived in the American Northwest and nearby Canada.

UPPER KALISPEL The Kalispel who lived upriver from Lake Pend Oreille, in the region that is now the state of Montana. Their largest lake is now called Flathead lake, and the reservation on its southern shores is called the Flathead Reservation by the Americans. Most of the Montana Kalispel live on this reservation, which they share with the Kootenai Indians and the Salish speaking Indians from the Bitterroot valley of Montana who were called the Flathead by early American explorers.

USK The westernmost Kalispel reservation is located near the American town of Usk, Washington. It therefore has come to be called by the nickname the 'Usk reservation' by many Americans.

The Kalispel of Montana
The Kalispel of Idaho
The Kalispel of Washington State
The Fox Jumps (book)
Kootenai Indians [neighbors]
Nestelah's Journey
Catholic Views