Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes: Applying the Values Taught by Our Ancestors

Tribal Profiles
U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) are made up of the Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreilles Tribes. Together, their aboriginal territories include over 20 million acres in western Montana, northern Idaho, and southern Canadian provinces. Today the reservation of the CSKT is just 1.3 million acres along the Flathead River in western Montana. The land currently supports a thriving community that has been recognized as a model of a self-sufficient sovereign nation. However, climate impacts threaten the diverse range of ecosystems on the reservation and throughout their homelands. For Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreilles peoples, these impacts have serious ramifications for their cultural, material, and spiritual well-being. Observed and expected changes that will impact the CSKT include increasing temperatures, lower summer stream flow, earlier and greater spring runoff, shifts in species ranges, increased likelihood of severe wildfires, and increased spread of invasive species. As the CSKT began recognizing the growing threats climate change represents to their traditions and livelihoods, they looked to their peoples’ knowledge and ability to overcome challenges. They drew heavily on the knowledge of tribal elders to ensure that Traditional Knowledges (TKs) would be integrated into their adaptation planning, and that cultural priorities would inform all aspects of their path forward. For example, elders’ observations about changes in plant availability and location are helping the CSKT prepare for future reductions in resource availability. Ultimately, the tribes integrated TKs with other research and analysis of community impacts to develop a comprehensive Climate Change Strategic Plan. The final plan they developed addresses climate impacts and vulnerabilities in nine categories of tribal life: forestry, land, fish, wildlife, water, air, infrastructure, people, and culture.

U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, Climate Change, Assessment and Planning, Traditional Knowledge, Resource Management, Sovereignty