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Tribal History and Ethnogeography Projects ...

For over a decade, the Culture Committee has been working toward completion of four major books on tribal history and culture from the perspective of tribal people. All draw primarily from our recorded oral histories told in the Salish language by tribal elders. In each of the books, the elders’ direct words -- printed in a bilingual, Salish-English format -- are combined with records from the National Archives and many other public repositories, and illustrated with images from numerous photographic collections, including the SPCC Photo Archives. All books are painstakingly reviewed by the Salish-Pend d'Oreille Elders Cultural Advisory Council to ensure accuracy and appropriate content. The result is a series of books providing an in-depth examination of tribal history from the perspective of tribal people, from voices that have been virtually absent from the historical record until now. Our work on these books over the past decade has been supported by both the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and by major grants from the Montana Committee for the Humanities, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the Mission Valley Community Foundation, the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, the Plum Creek Foundation, American Public Lands Exchange Company, and others.

Following the complete revision of A Brief History of the Salish and Pend d'Oreille Tribes, which was released in 2003, the Culture Committee and Elders Advisory Council completed The Salish People and the Lewis and Clark Expedition, published in 2005 by the University of Nebraska Press. [ http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/ohq/107.1/br_7.html ] This book is being reissued in paperback in January 2008.

In 2006, the Tribal History Project completed its contributions to the interactive DVD project, Fire on the Land, about traditional Salish-Pend d'Oreille use of fire, and the history of its suppression. In 2007, the project completed its contributions to the forthcoming SKC book about the Flathead River.

In the winter of 2008, we will be completing The Swan Massacre: A Story of the Pend d’Oreille People, about a tragic incident in 1908 involving a tribal family hunting party and a state game warden. The next book will be Skwskwstulexws: Names Upon the Land -- An Ethnogeography of the Salish and Pend d'Oreille People, a comprehensive cultural atlas of the tribes covering the entire aboriginal territory and some 550 Salish-language placenames.

Each of those first three books will contribute toward our overall history of the tribes, Voices of the Elders: A Tribal History of the Salish and Pend d'Oreille People. This will be published in four volumes.

The SPCC history and ethnogeography projects also involve ongoing work in the creation and revision of roadside historical and cultural signs, and input into the development of historical exhibits in various museums and visitors’ centers. The Culture Committee has worked with the Montana Department of Transportation, the National Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and other agencies on projects throughout western Montana, including the following road signs and exhibits:

  • Salish-Pend d'Oreille placename signs along US Highway 93 on the Flathead Reservation.
  • “Qlispe Hunting Grounds” -- along Highway 200 near Weeksville.
  • “Forced Removal of the Bitterroot Salish” -- along US Highway 93 at Stevensville.
  • “Salish Homeland” and “Lewis and Clark in the Bitterroot” -- along US Highway 93 just south of Lolo.
  • Series of at least four signs to be placed along Blackfoot River corridor by USFS and BLM (to be erected in 2008).
  • Text on Salish-Pend d'Oreille history and culture in exhibits at new Lolo Pass Visitor’s Center.
  • Lewis and Clark Visitors’ Center and Museum in Great Falls, MT.
  • “Neither Empty Nor Unknown” -- exhibit at Montana Historical Society.

In January 2008, the Culture Committee has completed work on an audio CD about the Salish placename signs on Highway 93, including pronunciation and translation of all the names.

The SPCC History and Ethnogeography Project also maintains a vigorous ongoing effort to interview tribal elders on a variety of issues. Finally, the project also conducts extensive interviews in public archives and maintains this information at the SPCC offices.


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Salish Audio Website

Salishaudio.org offers direct access to the voices of tribal elders speaking in the Salish language. Now students of Salish-Pend d'Oreille language and culture can listen and learn from the real experts — the elders themselves — from the convenience of their own computer or smartphone.

Salish-Pend d’ Oreille Culture Committee
81 Blind Barnaby Street
P.O. Box 550
St. Ignatius, Montana 59865
Phone: (406) 745-4572
Fax: 406-745-4573
Email: tonyi@cskt.org

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