History of the Flathead Indians
By: Peter Ronan
CSKT E 99 .S2 R7 1965
Peter Ronan compiled this short collection in 1890, during his time as the Flathead Reservation government agent. “History” is a somewhat deceptive term, as most of the information is gained from the opinions or stories of early white visitors to Flathead territory and the earliest details only go back to 1811. Ronan addresses historical conflicts between the Flathead and the Blackfeet, the general character of the Flathead Indians, and the coming of the Jesuit fathers to the Bitterroot Valley. Ronan’s discussion of Father Ravalli’s departure from the Bitterroot Valley is downplayed and conflicts between the priests and the Indians are not detailed. Ronan does describe the traditional Flathead way of hunting buffalo, which I found very interesting! I am awed by the strength and skill that was used to capture such powerful animals!
The most thorough information in this short book centers around Chief Charlot of the Bitterroot Salish. I felt that Ronan’s discussion of Charlot showed the great amount of respect and sympathy he felt for this brave and independent leader. Ronan does not hesitate to admit that the federal government acted dishonorably and deserved the mistrust of this man. Ronan’s picture of Charlot is as a honest, dignified man fighting for the promises made to him. At the time of this collection, Charlot still remained in the Bitterroot Valley, and Ronan’s descriptions of a federal trip to Washington D.C. with Charlot to discuss treaties with the President were fresh in his mind.
If you are looking for a short, basic introductory to Flathead history in the 1800’s, this book is an option!