Geographical region : Montana, Idaho

Language group : salish


Salish (Okinagan: sälst, 'people').

The Flathead, a subgroups of the Spokane tribes, were given their name from a custom common to many Salishan people of practicing head deformation by strapping their infants to hard cradleboards.

This flattened the back of the head and made the top appear more round.

The Flathead, conversely, did not practice head flattening, and therefore the tops of their heads were flatter than those of the other Salishan people, hence the name.

Formerly a large and powerful division of the Salishan family, to which they gave their name, inhabiting much of west Montana and centering around Flathead lake and valley.

A more popular designation for this tribe is Flatheads, given to them by the surrounding people, not because they artificially deformed their heads, but because, in contradistinction to most tribes farther west, they left them in their natural condition, flat on top.

They lived mainly by hunting.

The Salish, with the cognate Pend d'Oreille and the Kutenai, by treaty of Hell Gate, Montana, July 16, 1855, ceded to the United States their lands in Montana and Idaho.

They also joined in the peace treaty at the mouth of Judith river, Montana, Oct. 17, 1855.

Lewis and Clark estimated their population in 1806 to be 600; Gibbs gave their probable number in 1853 as 325, a diminution said to be due to wars with the Siksika; number of Flatheads under Flathead agency, Montana.