Charlo’s People: The Flathead Tribe
By: Adolf Hungry Wolf
CSKT E 99 .S2 C43 1974

This is a short, well-organized book on the recent (1800’s to 1970’s) history and culture of the Salish tribe who moved to the Flathead reservation from the Bitterroot Valley under the leadership of Chief Charlo. In the beginning of the book, the author, Adolf Hungry Wolf explains his use of the term “Flathead” instead of Salish to describe this group of people. He writes,

The old-timers prefer to call themselves Selish, which is also the name of the language tribal group to which they belong. However, the name Flathead has become universally accepted by neighboring tribes, historians, and most of the tribe members, themselves. I like to use the name Flathead because it reminds me of the huge and magically-beautiful Flathead Lake that welcomes me back to the country…

Hungry Wolf compiled his collection of stories and history from other ethnological books and transcripts, as well as interviews with those he affectionately refers to as “old-timers”: Victor Vanderburg, Jerome and Agnes Vanderburg, Mary Ann Coombs and Louie Ninepipe. I enjoyed the author’s easy writing style and personal tone throughout the chapters. He explains the indigenous way of life from hunting to cooking to social family practices. All his stories share a spiritual aspect, as the People’s actions and memories were often prompted by a deep spiritual connection to the world around them.

For people looking for a basic cultural history of the Interior Salish, the book is a great alternative to other longer and more complicated histories written by anthropologists.

Originally posted October 2013