From its peaks to its plains, Montana is a destination rich with culture and history. Today, eight Tribal Nations call it home, and they’re working to drive tourism to their lands — bolstered by support from the Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development to share the places and stories of their heritage.
In western Montana’s Glacier Country, the Blackfeet and Flathead Indian Reservations surround one of the greatest treasures in Montana — Glacier National Park — in a region known as the Crown of the Continent.
Home to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the Flathead Indian Reservation is found between the cities of Missoula and Kalispell and includes the southern part of Flathead Lake, which abounds with scenic vistas and recreation. Other points of interest include the People’s Center museum in Pablo, the National Bison Range outside of Charlo and the St. Ignatius Mission.
The Blackfeet Indian Reservation shares a border with Glacier National Park. Experience the park from a native American perspective with Sun Tours, which operates through Oct. 1. Learn about tribal history at the Museum of the Plains Indian in Browning. Or for a more active experience, try an activity Blackfeet Outfitters offers in the Badger Two Medicine area.
In Central Montana, study archaeology and learn about tribal hunting methods at First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park west of Great Falls, which is also the site of the Little Shell Tribe‘s annual powwow. Or check out the Wahkpa Chu’gn Buffalo Jump in Havre, near the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation.
While many powwows occur during the warm months, the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation holds two in the fall: the Chief Joseph Powwow the first weekend of October and the Fort Belknap Veterans Powwow the second weekend of November.
Encompassing 2 million acres in Missouri River Country of northeast Montana, the Fort Peck Indian Reservation is home to the Assiniboine and Sioux. The tribes recently expanded their bison herd with animals transferred from Yellowstone National Park.
In Southeast Montana, the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservations hold some of the best outdoor recreation opportunities with Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, and glimpses into important periods of native American history with the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. Indian Battle Tours provides tribal interpretation of the battle and also rents teepees for an even more authentic experience.
While visiting the communities of modern-day tribal nations is a great way to immerse yourself in their culture, other points of interest highlight the history of tribes no longer in Montana, such as Big Hole National Battlefield near Wisdom or Bear Paw Battlefield near Chinook. Sacred site for many, members of the Nez Perce Tribe gather here to honor and commemorate the battles.
Learn more about Indian Country in Montana and plan a trip with one of the road trip ideas in the Indian Country guidebook available at WWW.VISITMT.COM.