More than just our namesake, Chief Masselow played an integral role in the preservation of the Kalispel Tribe, its people and its culture.
Before white settlement, the Kalispels were often referred to as the “river/lake paddlers.” Everything from the fish we ate to our beliefs, the essence of the Kalispel people came from the River – it was the lifeblood of our Tribe, which is why the canoe is a symbol of our unique identity.
When Jesuit missionaries began to work with the Tribe in 1844, a new way of life was introduced. Though we lived peacefully with the newcomers while maintaining much of our traditional lifestyle, disease and food shortages soon caused our population to dwindle from early estimates of 1,600 by Lewis and Clark to approximately 100 in 1911. The Tribe was in desperate need of protection and security.
Masselow, who became chief in 1887, brought the Tribe the leadership it needed. When he was pressured by the U.S. Government to move the Tribe away from our homeland and the river, Masselow stood firm for his people. And in 1914, we received our own reservation on our ancestral homeland through an executive order by President Woodrow Wilson.
Today, our name is a tribute to his legacy. And it is always with great reverence, respect and sincerity that we say, “Welcome to Masselow’s”.