Physical evidence of human use dates back more than 10,000 years within the boundaries of Glacier National Park. Numerous Native American tribes utilized the area around and within what is now the park for hunting, fishing, ceremonies, and gathering plants. When the first white explorers began arriving in the region, the Blackfoot controlled the prairies on the east side of Glacier, while the Salish and Kootenai lived in the more forested west side.
Explorations to the area by white trappers as early as the 18th century opened the Crown, and the future Glacier National Park, to trading among European settlers and tribal communities. As resources were depleted, the tribes eventually signed treaties that would increasingly confine native people to reservations and leave them dependent on the U.S. government.
Today, the 1.5-million acre Blackfeet Indian Reservation, which shares Glacier’s eastern border, is home to about 8,600 members of the Blackfeet Nation, the largest tribe in Montana. The Flathead Indian Reservation encompasses approximately 1.3 million acres mostly along the Flathead River and is home to approximately 7,000 members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation.