As Told by Charlie Russell () | Discovering Lewis & Clark ®
on Western Indians that "The tribe called Flatheads, or Salish, who reside near .. Company, who met the Lewis and Clark expedition in the Man- dan country, to. - Lewis & Clark Meeting The Flathead Indians: Charles Marion Russell. pated in the meeting between the Salish tribe and . Ronda, James P. Lewis and Clark among the Indians. ment of the Flathead nation of Indians, about.
The Bitterroot Salish did not get the horse directly from the Spanish, but from the Shoshone who had acquired the horse from their cousins the Ute shortly after the Pueblo Revolt of Sometime between andthe Bitterroot Salish acquired the horse and this resulted in a dramatic change in their lifeways.
Shown above is an early Salish-made saddle. After the acquisition of the horse, many of the hunters from the eastern Plateau tribes traveled over the mountains to the Great Plains to hunt buffalo. Among the Flathead, there were two or three buffalo hunts each year: During the winter hunt, the Indians would obtain buffalo robes of the highest quality.
They would then follow this river to the Big Blackfoot River. They would travel past present-day Drummond, Avon, and Elliston. In the fall hunt, the Flathead were usually able to cross the Missouri River-which they called ep iyu nte? Once east of the mountains, they would travel into the Musselshell area to hunt buffalo.
Sometimes the hunters would drop south into the area of Yellowstone National Park where they could hunt the mountain or woods buffalo bison bison athabascae Rhoads which was smaller, tougher, and faster than the plains buffalo bison bison bison Linnaeus. The mountain buffalo grazed on willow and leaves and their flesh had an aromatic flavor. The primary hunting weapon used by the Bitterroot Salish was the bow and arrow. Flathead arrows were about three feet in length and were tipped according to the use for which they were intended.
In hunting small game, arrows were tipped with bone, but when hunting buffalo, stone or metal tips were used. The arrows were distinctively marked so that their ownership could easily be ascertained.
Near present-day Three Forks, Montana they were running out of river and needed to change from boats to horses. Fortunately, they encountered a Shoshone band which was able to supply them with horses, information about the Lolo Trail, and a Shoshone guide. Shown above is part of the Ravalli County Museum display of the material culture of the Corps of Discovery.
File:CMR-Lewis and Clark Meet Flathead at Ross Hole.jpg
Here they camped for a while with the Flathead. While talking to the Salish was difficult, there were other forms of contact. Captain Clark quickly obtained a Flathead woman as a sexual companion. The Americans smoked with the Flathead using some of their Virginia tobacco, but the Flathead found it too strong. The Flatheads prefer to be called Salish. The common explanation of the English name is that they were considered flat-headed by tribes on the lower Columbia who deformed the skulls of their infants to produce a pointed head.
Supposedly in the nineteenth century these mountain " Flatheads " became confused by whites with those who did practice skull deformation, and thus the term was used loosely for many Northwest tribes.
Biddle does not use the term " Flathead " for these people, but the captains used the term both in their journals and in the Estimate of Eastern Indiansindicating that they had heard it before meeting these people, perhaps at the Mandan - Hidatsa villages. The sign language term for the Salish suggests a flattening of the sides of the heads.
Sergeant Gass used the name " Flat-head " in his published journal, perhaps helping to fasten the name on the Salish. The name " Tushepau " or Tushepaw apparently represents the Shoshone term tatasiba, "the people with shaved heads," meaning the Flatheads.
Sven Liljeblad, personal communication. After acquiring the horse in the s, the Flatheads became buffalo hunters on the Montana plains, but pressure from the Blackfeet and other plains tribes forced them to spend much of their time in the mountains of northwestern Montana. Their buffalo hunts were perilous excursions into enemy country.
They were consistently friendly to whites from Lewis and Clark's time on.
C. M. Russell’s 1912 Painting “Lewis and Clark Meeting the Flathead Indians at Ross' Hole”
In the s many were converted to Christianity by Catholic missionaries. A Flathead tradition, recorded over ninety years later, says that old Chief Three Eaglesout scouting for enemies, first spotted the explorers.Flathead Reservation History: Chief Rocky Boy's Domain
Lewis and Clark were riding ahead, while the rest of the party were leading their horses. The chief was puzzled at first that the strangers did not wear blankets, as all Indians of his acquaintance did, and he wondered if York was a warrior with his face painted black as a sign of war.
He finally decided that the casual manner in which they were traveling did not suggest hostile intent, so the tribe greeted the newcomers in friendly fashion.
C. M. Russell’s Painting “Lewis and Clark Meeting the Flathead Indians at Ross' Hole” | Photo
The captains gave the chiefs American tobacco mixed with kinnickinnick, which the Indians thought superior to whatever they had been smoking. Majors LCRMn. Probably one of the forks of Camp CreekRavalli County. More correctly, Salish Indians.