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Kalispel Indians

Posted By Dennis Partridge On In Idaho,Montana,Native American,Washington | No Comments

Kalispel Indians. From a native term said to mean “Camas”; they were given the name Pend d’Oreilles, because when they were first met by Europeans nearly all of them wore large shell earrings. Also called:

  • Ak-min’-e-shu’-me, by the Crow and meaning “the tribe that uses canoes”.
  • Camas People, a translation of Kalispel.
  • Earring People, an English translation of Pend d’Oreilles.
  • Hanging Ears, English translation of Pend d’Oreilles.
  • Ni-he-ta-te-tup’i-o, Siksika name.
  • Papshptln`lema, Yakima name, signifying “people of the great fir trees.”

Kalispel Connections. The Kalispel belonged to the interior division of the great Salishan family.

Kalispel Location. On Pend Oreille River and Lake, Priest Lake, and the lower course of Clark’s Fork. They were said to have extended east-ward to Thompson Lake and Horse Plains and to have hunted over some of the Salmon River country, Canada, and were formerly said to have extended to Flathead Lake and Missoula. (See also Montana and Washington.)

Kalispel Subdivisions

(1) Upper Kalispel or Upper Pend d’Oreilles (in Montana from Flathead Lake and Flathead River to about Thompson Falls on Clark Fork of the Pend Oreille River, including the Little Bitterroot, southward about to Missoula and north-ward to the International Boundary), with bands at Flathead Lake, near Kalispel, at or near Dayton, near Poison at the foot of the lake, and possibly one at Columbia Falls; some wintered on the Bitterroot and a large band at St. Ignatius.

(2) Lower Kalispel or Lower Pend d’Oreilles or Kalispel proper (from Thompson Falls down Clark Fork, Pend Oreille Lake, Priest Lake, and Pend Oreille River nearly to the International Boundary and hunting territories along Salmon River, British Columbia).

(3) The Chewelah (in the country west of the Calispell or Chewelah Mountains in the upper part of the Colville Valley).

The Lower Kalispel also included several minor bands, the Chewelah apparently two. The Chewelah subdivision spoke a slightly different dialect and was sometimes regarded as an independent tribe.

Kalispel History. The Kalispel were visited by Lewis and Clark in 1805, and in 1809 a post was established on Pend Oreille Lake by the Northwest Company and another on Clark Fork the same year called Salish House. Emissaries of the American Fur Company reached them later, and in 1844 they were missionized by the Roman Catholic Church. July 16, 1855, the Upper Kalispel, Kutenai, and Salish surrendered all of their lands except an area about Flathead Lake which became the Jocko Reservation. The greater part of the Kalispel settled here, but part of the Lower Kalispel were gathered on Colville Reservation with the Okanagon, Colville, and a number of other tribes.

Kalispel Population. Mooney (1928) estimated that the Kalispel numbered 1,200 in 1780, but Teit (1930) considered that the prehistoric population must have been between 5,000 and 6,500, an estimate which would seem to be excessive. In 1805 Lewis and Clark estimated that there were 30 lodges of these people and a population of 1,600. In 1905 there were 640 Upper and 197 Lower Pend d’Oreilles under the Flathead Agency (Jocko Reservation) and 98 under the Colville Agency. The census of 1910 reported 386 from Montana, 157 from Washington, 15 from Idaho, and 6 from three other States. They were not separately enumerated in 1930, but the United States Office of Indian Affairs reported 97 in 1937.

Connections in which the┬áKalispel have become noted. The name Kalispel is preserved in that of the banking city of Kalispell, county seat of Flathead County, Mont., by Calispell Lake, and by the Calispell Mountains. The name Pend d’Oreilles is preserved in Pend Oreille Lake in northern Idaho and in Pend Oreille River in Montana, Idaho, and Washington.


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