The Kalispel Indians were semi-nomadic hunters, diggers and fishermen and were often called the “River/Lake paddlers.” During the mid to late 19th century, the Kalispel Tribe of Indians worked to preserve its culture and life in the midst of increasing white settlement in the area.
In 1855, the Upper Kalispel Tribe ceded its lands and moved to the Jocko Reservation in Montana at the request of the U.S. Government. The Lower Kalispel Tribe, ancestors of today's Kalispel members, refused to give up ancestral lands and continued to work toward an agreement that would allow the Tribe to remain on its homeland.
By 1874, Congress had stopped establishing treaties with tribes altogether, leaving the Kalispel Tribe with no legal protection. By 1875, the Tribal population had shrunk to only 395 people. From 1880 to 1910, as more white settlers moved into Kalispel territory, the tribe witnessed its land disappearing, but could do nothing to prevent it.
With most of the land on the reservation unsuitable for development, the tribe has had to develop innovative ways to create opportunity for tribal members. The tribe’s pioneering spirit, combined with sheer determination, resiliency and community cohesiveness, has allowed the tribe to overcome many difficult circumstances.
The Kalispel Tribe of Indians is rich in heritage. It is the tribe’s mission to continue strengthening and building its community while preserving its cultural and natural heritage. The tribe’s traditions have taught its members cultural pride and to work together to continue the advancement of their people. The tribe is committed to promoting a bright future that respects traditions, education, nurturing environments for their children, and successful enterprise.
The Kalispel Tribe lives in harmony with nature and is a national leader in preserving wildlife habitat and fish hatcheries. The Kalispel Natural Resource Department (KNRD) seeks to protect and enhance all natural resources and the health of the entire ecosystem. KNRD is responsible for managing the historic properties, fisheries, wildlife, water and other natural resources of the Kalispel Tribe of Indian's reservation in Usk, Washington, and other ceded lands in the lower Clark Fork and Pend Oreille.