|September 2, 1882||
The tribes agreed to sell the Northern Pacific Railroad a strip of land 200 feet wide and fifty-three miles long for $16,000. Chief Arlee opened the negotiations by asking for a million dollars. The chiefs made witty and shrewd comments through the three-day negotiations but they did not have a real choice. They did not want to sell, but assistant attorney general Joseph McGammon promised them that if they made a deal with the railroad, he would propose adjusting their reservation boundary north to the Canadian border, so they would have plenty of land for hunting and fishing. He never made the proposal, but the coming of the railroad greatly reduced the isolation of the Flathead Reservation.
|1883||The plains bison were nearly extinct.|
The first commercial ship on Flathead Lake, the Swan, was built by Fred Lingren, Neil and George Nelson and Hugh F. Sinclair. Many people wanted a water route connecting the Mission Valley with the Kootenai Valley north of Flathead Lake. The Swan was a twenty ton sailboat, and due to unreliable winds it was not a commercial success. Sometimes it took a week to make the trip from Polson Landing to Dooley's landing, a few miles up the Flathead River. In 1885, the partners sold the boat to Captain Kerr, who put a steam engine in it and renamed it the U.S.S. Grant. In 1886, Duncan McDonald and Mr. Biggs launched a new boat, the Pocahontas
The Flathead reservation court was organized. The judges included Joseph (Grizzly Bear Stand Up), Baptiste Ka-Ka-She (Spotted Foot), and Louison (Red Owl). The court prohibited the sun, war, and scalp dances as well as "outrages against the Northern Pacific Railroad such as displacing switches, placing obstructions on the track, shooting at telegraph insulators, cutting wires, and camping on the right of way." The creation of the court led to contests with chiefs, such as Arlee, about who would exercise authority. The legal status of reservation Indians remained unclear.
|1885||Photographer F. J. Haynes visited Lambert's Landing (called Polson after the Post Office was established in 1898).|
|February 8, 1887||Congress passed the General Allotment Act—usually called the Dawes Act. Indian lands were to be split into individual allotments, with remaining lands offered for sale to the public. Citizenship would be conferred on Indians who gave up their tribal affiliations. Most Flatheads had no interest in owning land in severalty but wanted to continue owning it in common.|
|June, 1887||Two Dayton Creek Kutenais were lynched after a man was murdered near Horse Plains. Not much later, ten Indians murdered three white men in their camp. Whites got revenge by murdering a hunting party of the Pend d'Oreille chief's family.|
|August 8, 1889||
Chief Arlee died. According to Mary Ronan,
"his body was borne in state from his home, a mile west of the agency, to
the church. Hundreds of Indians and half-breeds, on horseback, in wagons,
and on foot, formed the motley cortege and chanted the Salish song of
mourning all the way."
By this time, according to the Flathead Agency's annual report, there were 5,782 horses and 12,250 cattle on the reservation, most owned by a few ranchers, such as Michel Pablo and Charles Allard.
|December 11, 1889||John F. Stevens, working for James J. Hill's Great Northern railroad, located Marias Pass. The pass had been nearly forgotten since the Flatheads had stopped using it to visit buffalo country decades before due to attacks by Blackfeet. The discovery of the pass led Hill to build the Great Northern westward from Havre rather than farther south, crossing the mountains near Helena or Great Falls. The northern route created a busy transportation corridor through the reservation from the Northern Pacific at Ravalli to the Great Northern at the north end of Flathead Lake.|
|1890||The Sisters of Providence asked the Ursuline Sisters to establish a kindergarten for Indian children at the St. Ignatius Mission. This was later expanded into an elementary and a high school.|
|1891||The Northern Pacific, with its mainline through the reservation, completed connections from Seattle to Chicago. Between 30 and 40 four- and six-horse freight wagons were in continuous operation between Ravalli And Polson. One observer reported meeting nearly 200 people traveling south on his trip from Polson to Ravalli. (Elwood, 1976)|
|1891||Commissioner Thomas Morgan announced he would contract directly with schools rather than with the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions because support of sectarian schools violated the Constitution.|
|October 17, 1891||
|1892||Completion of the Great Northern Railway through the Flathead Reservation.|
|July, 1893||The new brick church in St. Ignatius was dedicated.|
|August 19, 1893||
Peter Ronan died. Most Flathead Indians
owned houses and fenced fields. The population, reported in October 1994
by the new agent, Joseph T. Carter: 1,654 members of confederated
tribes, 65 Lower Pend Oreilles, 173 Flatheads of Charlot's band, 67
Kutenais from Idaho, and 106 Spokanes. Of these an estimated 700 had
completely adopted white men's clothing. Carter estimated that 90
percent of the Flatheads earned their living in "civilized"
pursuits--i.e. farming and stock growing, 2 percent hunting, and 8
percent (Charlot's people) from government rations.
A 1906 description of a stock roundup, which occurred during the "open range" period before allotment.
|Autumn, 1894||The U.S. Army confronted "Coxey's Army" at Arlee. Jacob Sechler Coxey was trying to get a massive federal program in place to alleviate unemployment. He had left Seattle heading for Washington D.C. in September, his group growing in size as they went. In Hope, Idaho, they commandeered a Northern Pacific train. A posse formed in Missoula and headed to Arlee to stop the train. They removed rails which stopped the train only long enough for the crew to lay down new rails. The posse, with a U.S. Marshall stopped the train at gunpoint just before it got to Arlee and arrested the entire army. They were held in a camp near Arlee for a couple of weeks, until the U.S. Army arrived and took over.|
|1895||State senator William H. Smead from Missoula introduced a petition to the Montana Legislature to open the reservation to homesteaders. Peter Ronan had fought such measures but he had died two year earlier. The Montana Legislature sent its recommendation to the U.S. Congress. In 1897, Smead was appointed Flathead Indian agent. He was fired in 1904 for illegally leasing reservation land to white ranchers. He formed the Flathead Reservation Information Agency which marketed services to prospective reservation homesteaders.|
|1897||A public school was opened in a restaurant in Arlee. It was established for settlers' children. Some Indians children also enrolled.|
|September 1, 1899||A government day school was opened at the agency with one teacher, Miss Louisa McDermott. It preferred full-blood students.|
© 2004 Flathead
Reservation Historical Society. All rights reserved.