History & Culture of Ronan Area




Welcome to the homeland of the Salish, Kootenai and Pend d’Oreille Tribes on the  Flathead Indian Reservation



The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are the largest employer in Lake County with 1,200 employees serving a dozen departments that tend to natural resources, forests, lands, water and air quality along with law enforcement, tribal health and housing services. Of the 8,087 enrolled Tribal members, approximately 5,380 live on the reservation. The Tribal government is directed by a 10-member Council of elected officials. The Tribal headquarters are based in Pablo, with tribal offices spread across the reservation.




The Confederated Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreille Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation thrived on a 22-million acre territory in what is now the Western United States and Canada. After our consent to the 1855 Hellgate Treaty, we reserved nearly 1.3 million acres for our exclusive use and benefit. The Reservation includes a portion of the Rocky Mountains, the southern half of Flathead Lake (the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River), an extensive river corridor, forests, and wide variety of wildlife, fish and bird species. In 1934, the first Tribal Council was formed along with a constitution and a governance system that is still in place today. The first action by the new council was to stop 25 years of federal policy that both sold and gave away tribal lands with federal homesteading policies.



Today the tribes directly control and manage all Reservation natural resources through its Departments including Natural Resources, Forestry, Lands, and Cultural Preservation. Approximately 300 employees carry out the natural resource protection, planning and management. The Tribal government has pursued every opportunity to operate its own programs through the Indian Education and Self Determination Act. The role of the BIA has been greatly reduced as the Tribal government has grown more sophisticated and has emerged as a national role model for self-determination Tribes.



 The Salish, Kootenai and Pend d’Oreille have fought continually to preserve a rich cultural heritage that has sustained the people for thousands of years. Since initial contact, then signing the treaty, and coping with federal Indian policy, the Salish-Kootenai struggled against total assimilation into the mainstream culture. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai people began to fashion a unique blend of old and new that would perpetuate Tribal culture, preserve natural resources and provide economic well-being, for future generations. Today, under the guidance of Tribal Elders, a new generation celebrates the old ways while shaping opportunities for economic growth with wise use of all Tribal resources.



The Tribal government is the largest employer in Lake County with 1,200 employees, which does not include the nationally-known Salish Kootenai College, which enrolls 1,000 students. The Tribal government infuses $70 million annually into the area economy through a $35 million payroll and $40 million on vendor good and services. A recent report funded by the State of Montana showed that the Tribes contribute a whopping $317 million to the Montana economy every year. On September 5, 2015, the Tribes renamed Kerr Dam to SE̓LIŠ KSANKA QĹISPE̓ as they began operations after a successful purchase.



The Tribes have also launched two very successful technology companies, S&K Electronics and S&K Technologies. The Tribal gaming operation manages two casinos, Gray Wolf Peak, the Big Arm Marina, and the KwaTaqNuk Resort and Casino on the south shore of Flathead Lake. The Tribes also manage the federally-owned Mission Valley Power Company and founded a tribally owned and operated institution, Eagle Bank in Polson. The People’s Center, located along Highway 93 north of Pablo, offers a museum and gift shop filled with more information about the Salish and Kootenai Tribes.


The People's Center is the place to experience the rich cultural heritage of the Salish, Pend d'Oreille and Kootenai tribes. The traditions and culture of our tribes have been passed down orally from generation to generation since time  began. As our lifestyles change with time and technology, we continue to preserve and protect our heritage, history and culture. We invite you to explore the artifacts and exhibits, and to hear the stories of our people in their own voices. We also invite  you to participate in our cultural activities, our celebrations, known as pow-wows, and other events reflecting the Tribes. We are owned and operated by the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes (CSKT).


The People's Center perpetuates this rich heritage, through our tradition of oral history, and by creating opportunities of exchange between tribal elders, youth and the public. Through education, we hope to dispel myths and stereotyping  of Native Americans and create better understanding between all peoples. We are owned and operated by the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes and are located in Pablo, Montana on the Flathead Indian Reservation.


Our museum is 1200 square feet of exhibits that help tell our stories and share our cultures and traditions and includes the original vests of tribal members Sub Chief Arlee and Martin Charlo. Historical beaded vests they wore long ago.  These vests have come home to help us share the stories of two of our past chiefs, beaded regalia made and worn our Salish, Pend d'Oreille and Kootenai people. Historic tools, photographs and histories to learn about our people of today and yesterday.


Our wonderful gift shop offers the visitor authentic Native American made custom beaded, designed items from not only CSKT members but tribal people who live in the area. Gifts to take home and remember your visit on the Flathead Indian  Reservation.


We offer guided tours of our museum, families, groups and individuals. Traditional native Games, arts & crafts and many special programs upon request. Annual Social Pow-wow (Celebration) every third Saturday in August. Native American  Awareness Week yearly in September. Classes every Friday to learn to bead, sew or craft an item to take home. 


We are open year round for your convenience.

Starting June 1st, our hours will be M-Sat 8am-5pm through August.

The People's Center
56633 Highway 93
Pablo, Montana 59855

Phone Number: (406) 675-0160
Fax Number: (406) 675-0260
Email: peoplescenter@cskt.org

Energy Keepers & the Dam