Kootenai Indians, Idaho

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United States Gotoarrow.png American Indians Gotoarrow.png Idaho Gotoarrow.png Indians of Idaho Gotoarrow.png Kootenai Indians, Idaho

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Alternate names:: Kootenai, Kootenay, Kootenai Indians of Idaho, Kootenae, Kootenaha, Kouttainis, Koutaine, Kitinqu, Kutenai

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Regions with significant populations
Ancestral Homelands: northwestern Montana, northern Idaho, northeastern Washington, southeastern British Columbia and Alberta

Kootenai Reservation in Idaho and the Flathead Reservation in Montana. Some also live in British Columbia.


Federally recognized

Linguistic Group

not yet researched

Cultural Group

not yet researched

Other Related Ethnic Groups

Flathead, Pend d'Oreilles, Salish

Tribal Headquarters

The Kootenai Indians reside primarily in Idaho.

Kootenai Tribe of Idaho
P.O. Box 1269
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805-1269


Encounters with non-Indians and traders began in 1795 and early 1800, when they established trade relations with the North West Company. One employee of the company, David Thompson, a trader and explorer, built a trading post and named it Kootenai House. The Lewis and Clark Expediton reported locating the Kootenai tribe in the Bitterroot Valley (Montana).

In 1855 The "Hell's Gate" treaty was signed with the Blackfeet,Piegan, Blood, Gros Ventres,Flathead, Pend d'Oreille, and Kootenai tribes and the United States.

The Kootenai later moved to the Flathead and Kootenai reservations.

The Kootenai and Salish tribes living on the Flathead Reservation became the Consolidated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in 1935.

** Kootenai and Salish intermarried with each other and with their white neighbors. Many have French or Scotch names, inherited from traders and trappers who married Indian women.

Brief Timeline

  • 1795: Duncan M'Gillivray, a trader encounters the Kootenai tribe.
  • Early 1800's: David Thompson, explorer, established trade relations for the North West Company. He built a trading post named Kootenai House in 1807.
  • 1806: Lewis and Clark Expedition encounter the Kootenai tribe in the Bitterroot Valley, Montana
  • 1855: "Hell's Gate" Treaty with the Blackfeet, Piagan, Blood, Gros Ventres, Flathead, Pend d'Oreille and Kootenai tribes.
  • 1855: Treaty with the Flathead
  • Move to Flathead reservation
  • Move to Kootenai reservation
  • 1935: the Kootenai and Salish living on the Flathead Reservation incorporate and become the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes
  • 1947: Approved a constitution

Additional References to the History of the Tribe


The majority of records of individuals were those created by the agencies. Some records may be available to tribal members through the tribal headquarters.They were (and are) the local office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and were charged with maintaining records of the activities of those under their responsibility. Among these records are:

Agency Records

The following agencies of the Bureau of Indian Affairs had jurisdiction over the Kootenai for the time periods indicated. BIA agencies were responsible to keep such records as census rolls, allotment (land) records, annuity rolls, school records, correspondence, and other records of individual Indians under their jurisdiction. For details, see the page for the respective agency.

Census Records

The Bureau of Indian Affairs compiled annual Indian Census Rolls on many of the reservations from 1885 to 1940. They list the names of individuals, their age, and other details about each person enumerated. For more information about these records, click here.

The following table lists the census rolls for the Kootenai Indians:


Location of Original Records

Post-1885 Census

M 595 RG 75 Rolls 693

Roll Number





Washington D.C. Rolls 107-116 FLH Film: 575799-575800, and 576464-576471

Coeur d'Alene

Washington D.C. Rolls 43-45 FHL Film: 574202-574204

Northern Idaho

Washington D.C. Roll 302 FHL Film: 579712

Correspondence Records

There are several sets of correspondence between the supervising offices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the local offices -- agencies, subagencies, etc. The correspondence is often historical in nature, including reports of the conditions among local groups of Indians, hostilities, plans for building facilities, activities of traders or missionaries, etc. Occasionally, there will be names of individuals but little detail about them. For more information about American Indian correspondence, click here.

The following table lists some correspondence relating to the Kootenai Indians:

Agency Location of Original Records

Pre - 1880 Correspondence

M234 RG 75 Rolls 962

Roll Number




Montana Superintendency, 1864-80 Washington D.C. Rolls 488-518 -

Enrollment Records

In 1905, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs assigned Special Agent Thomas Downs to investigate the enrollment of the Indians of the Flathead Reservation. The National Archives has microfilmed the resulting documents as their Microcopy M1350, consisting of 3 rolls of microfilm. These records are available at the National Archives and their Regional Archives, and at other research institutions, including the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The records include census rolls for 1903, 1905, and 1908, as well as applications for enrollment and Agent Downs' field notes. It includes members of all tribes then living on the Flathead Reservation, including the Flathead, Kootenai, Pend d'Oreille, Kalispel, and Spokane tribes.


During the latter part of the 18th Century and most of the 19th Century, treaties were negotiated between the federal government and individual Indian tribes. The treaties provide helpful information about the history of the tribe, but usually only include the names of those persons who signed the treaty. For more information about treaties, click here.

Treaties to which the Kootenai Indians were a part were:

  •  1855: October 17, at Judith River, Territory of Nebraska, with the Blackfeet
  •  1855: July 16, at Hall Gate, in Bitter Root Valley, with the Flathead, Upper Pend d'Oreille

Tribal Office Records

The Tribal Office is responsible for enrollment records, vital records, tribal police records, tribal court records, employment records and many others. They are an entirely different set of records from those kept by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Most of them remain in the Tribal Office. For details, contact that office at the address for the Tribal Headquarters listed above.

Important Websites





  • Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives; Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  • Hodge, Frederick Webb. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1906 Available online.
  • Klein, Barry T., ed. Reference Encyclopedia of the American Indian. Nyack, New York: Todd Publications, 2009. 10th ed. WorldCat 317923332; FHL book 970.1 R259e.
  • Malinowski, Sharon and Sheets, Anna, eds. The Gale Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes. Detroit: Gale Publishing, 1998. 4 volumes. Includes: Lists of Federally Recognized Tribes for U.S., Alaska, and Canada – pp. 513-529 Alphabetical Listing of Tribes, with reference to volume and page in this series Map of “Historic Locations of U.S. Native Groups” Map of “Historic Locations of Canadian Native Groups” Map of “Historic Locations of Mexican, Hawaiian and Caribbean Native Groups” Maps of “State and Federally Recognized U.S. Indian Reservations. WorldCat 37475188; FHL book 970.1 G131g.
Vol. 1 -- Northeast, Southeast, Caribbean
Vol. 2 -- Great Basin, Southwest, Middle America
Vol. 3 -- Arctic, Subarctic, Great Plains, Plateau
Vol. 4 -- California, Pacific Northwest, Pacific Islands
  • Sturtevant, William C. Handbook of North American Indians. 20 vols., some not yet published. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1978– .
Volume 1 -- Not yet published
Volume 2 -- Indians in Contemporary Society (pub. 2008) -- WorldCat 234303751
Volume 3 -- Environment, Origins, and Population (pub. 2006) -- WorldCat 255572371
Volume 4 -- History of Indian-White Relations (pub. 1988) -- WorldCat 19331914; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.4.
Volume 5 -- Arctic (pub. 1984) -- WorldCat 299653808; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.5.
Volume 6 -- Subarctic (pub. 1981) -- WorldCat 247493742; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.6.
Volume 7 -- Northwest Coast (pub. 1990) -- WorldCat 247493311
Volume 8 -- California (pub. 1978) -- WorldCat 13240086; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.8.
Volume 9 -- Southwest (pub. 1979) -- WorldCat 26140053; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.9.
Volume 10 -- Southwest (pub. 1983) -- WorldCat 301504096; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.10.
Volume 11 -- Great Basin (pub. 1986) -- WorldCat 256516416; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.11.
Volume 12 -- Plateau (pub. 1998) -- WorldCat 39401371; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.12.
Volume 13 -- Plains, 2 vols. (pub. 2001) -- WorldCat 48209643
Volume 14 -- Southeast (pub. 2004) -- WorldCat 254277176
Volume 15 -- Northwest (pub. 1978) -- WorldCat 356517503; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.15.
Volume 16 -- Not yet published
Volume 17 -- Languages (pub. 1996) -- WorldCat 43957746
Volume 18 -- Not yet published
Volume 19 -- Not yet published
Volume 20 -- Not yet published