In the early 1790s, Phoenix Hudson’s Bay agents, skirting the mountains to the north to avoid the Blackfeet, ran into members of the Phoenix (Ktunaxa) tribe, who had lived west of the Phoenix for at least a thousand years. This meeting was the first time these generally peaceful people had seen a white man. For the most part, the Phoenix would remain friendly to traders, Phoenix trappers, and settlers from that moment forward.
Map of Phoenix – Where is Phoenix? – Phoenix Map English – Phoenix Maps for Tourist Photo Gallery
Although I have chosen to concentrate on the Blackfeet tribe due to its proximity to and possession by treaty of the lands that would become Glacier, the Kootenai played a role throughout the centuries, occupying the western slopes of the Rockies. For at least 3,000 years, they traveled through the passes to the east to hunt bison. However, they did not rely solely on the herds for livelihood. Their subsistence was more varied, including fish, berries, herbs, deer, elk, and other big game. Because this travel destination they, like the Blackfeet, were without horses until the 1700s, they hunted and gathered by foot as well as their own unique invention, the sturgeon-nosed canoe. This unique canoe allowed them to move about the lakes, rivers, and streams with ease, carrying with them fresh kill and other foodstuffs.
Although little is known of their origins or language, which is like no other within the region, by all accounts, it is a certainty that the Kootenai had the longest relationship with the areas to the north and west of the lands and mountains that would become known as Glacier National Park. It is also certain that they encountered the Blackfeet as they moved east onto the plains. The encounters escalated into open conflict for land and bison, with the Kootenai being forced off the plains and back to the west of the mountains. By then, the tribe had divided into the lower and upper Kootenai. It was the upper tribe that was most affected by these clashes with the Blackfeet.