Two Native American tribes, the Salish (Flatheads to the Europeans) and the Pend d’Oreille (French for “hangs from the ears”) originally owned 22 million acres of beautiful Northwest Montana land that supported a traditional life of hunting, fishing, and gathering by closely knit families for thousands upon thousands of years. Known as the “People of the Broad Water,” the Pend d’Oreille ultimately divided into a lower band known as the Kalispel. The arrival of the Europeans caused dramatic changes and although the introduction of horses brought greater mobility, easier access to hunting and gathering, it also expanded inter-tribal relationships and marriages. The Jesuits, or “Blackrobes” as they were called, brought further changes and finally tribal lands were reduced to the 1.3 million acres of the Flathead Reservation. Despite the losses and change, the tribes began anew, establishing farms and ranches, and rebuilding their lives. In the past several decades, the tribes have developed a sophisticated system of tribal governance and natural resources conservation recognized as some of the best in United States. Passing stories down through the ages has kept their ancient histories, language, and connection to the land alive. Their story is the story of the Mission Valley and one you will learn on this scenic drive.