The Pend d’Oreille didn’t suffer as much as many of the other tribes that came to call Montana home, and they were here longer as well, beginning with the last ice age in fact.
Similarities and Differences
The Pend d’Oreille were very similar to the Salish in that they spent most of their early history in the Pacific Northwest, but moved back east to Montana about 5,000 years ago. But while the Salish primarily stayed higher up in the mountains, the Pend d’Oreille chose to branch out into the valleys and onto the plains. The area they came to inhabit was around the Paradise region of the state, and stretched upstream as far as Butte.
The Pend d’Oreille language and the Salish language are very similar, but there are some minor nuisances which differentiate the two. There way of life was slightly different as well. The Pend d’Oreille relied heavily on fishing around the Columbia River, and supplemented that with small game hunting and gathering roots and berries, while the Salish branched out onto the plains sooner and buffalo meat thus became a central part of their diet.
The Pend d’Oreille were a peaceful tribe, and that’s one of the reasons they suffered so when the other Indian tribes began moving into their lands. Like many of the other Plateau tribes, the Pend d’Oreille banded together with other area tribes to hunt buffalo, and with the introduction of the horse in the 18th century, to form war and raiding parties. This would have become more common, and more important, once the Blackfeet arrived in the state and began pushing the Pend d’Oreille and so many other tribes west across the Continental Divide and off of the western extent of the Great Plains.
Bryan, William L. Montana’s Indians: Yesterday and Today. American & World Geographic Publishing: Helena, 1996. p 115.
Ngal, Phyllis. Crossing Mountains: Native American Language Education in Public Schools. No publication information listed.
Pritzer, Barry. Native Americans [2 Volumes]: An Encyclopedia of History, Culture, and Peoples. ABC-CLIO: Santa Barbara, 1998. p 257-8.
Walden, Carl. Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes. Infobase Publishing: New York, 2006. p 126-7.