Kootenai River Scenic Byway

Envision sometime around 10,000 years ago when the glaciers were melting and  Northwest Montana was becoming habitable. Native Americans began settling from both east and west. By this one stroke of geography, the culture of the Kootenai became a cross between the Plateau Indians and the Plains Indians. Men dressed in breechcloths and women in tunics made of antelope, deer, or buffalo hide. They lived in conical tepees, painted their garments, tents, and bodies in the manner of Great Plains tribes, and engaged in communal fishing, using great bark and dugout canoes like the Plateau people. In a tribe loosely divided into bands, each with their own leadership, there were no clans, classes, or secret societies. After acquiring horses, the Kootenai went further afield to engage in annual bison hunts, yet unfortunately, horses also enabled the tribe to engage in tribal warfare. The Kootenai deified the sun and like most other Native Americans, believed that a multitude of spirits pervades all things in nature. Many early explorers admired their clothing made from elegantly tanned hides and canoes constructed with exquisite workmanship. Since they knew every nook and cranny of the region, the tribe served as guides for the early explorers, with knowledge of the physical geography that was legendary. In fact, the roads and highways we travel today were originally the paths and trails that crisscrossed Kootenai territory, including the Kootenai River Scenic Drive. Enjoy the beautiful landscape as you explore this timeless place. 

Ancient Land of the Kootenai

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