Posts Tagged ‘Debt Relief’

Indian Tribes of Montana – A Proud Heritage

November 7th, 2022

The first people to inhabit the area now known as Montana were members of nomadic tribes that supplemented their diets with native plants and sustained their existence by hunting buffalo and other mammals. Following the buffalo herds,Guest Posting these first people crossed the Bering Strait from Asia approximately 12,000 years ago and over time migrated southward. Archaeologists have verified evidence of a thriving tribal culture established west of the Rocky Mountains more than 9,000 years ago.

Before the white man came west, Indian people roamed freely across this great land, following the gigantic buffalo herds that once covered the plains. For hundreds of years the native peoples relied on the buffalo for food, clothing and shelter. The bison was revered among the Indian Tribes as a bountiful gift from the Creator and were thus hunted with reverence and respect.

The area now known as Montana was inhabited by two major groups of Indian tribes. The Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Crow, Assiniboine, Atsina and Arapaho tribes lived on the south and eastern grassy plains. The rugged western mountains were the home of the Shoshone, Bannack, Kalispell, Flathead and Kootenai tribes. The Dakota, Sioux and the Nez Perce tribes entered Montana at times to hunt and dispatch war parties, but were not permanent residents of the State.

With the arrival of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the first decade of the 19th century, the traditional way of life of Montana Indians became increasingly threatened. By the mid-1880′s, the federal government began to deal formally with the tribes, entering into treaties that assigned tribes to certain designated areas and obligated them to respect the land boundaries of their neighbors. However, the mining “booms” of the 1860′s fractured these fragile arrangements as miners rushed into the lucrative gold fields that often lay adjacent to or within the designated tribal lands. These new “settlers” demanded federal protection, thus beginning the garrisoning of Montana and the eventual forced relocation of the tribes to smaller and smaller reservations.

The combination of “tribal” and “nation” best encapsulates essential aspects of both the historical and contemporary identity of Indian communities in Montana. There are nine principal tribal groups living on seven reservations in Montana. Three of the reservations are inhabited by more than one tribal group.