Flathead


Flathead
/flat"hed'/, n.
1. a member of a tribe of Salishan Indians of northwest Montana.
2. a Chinook Indian.
[1530-40; so called from their supposed practice of flattening their children's heads]

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North American Indian people living in Montana, U.S. Salish is what they call themselves, and their language is of Salishan linguistic stock.

The name Flathead is now customary, although it is a misnomer; they themselves did not practice head-flattening, but some of their slaves came from tribes that did. The Flatheads, who inhabited what is now western Montana, were the easternmost group of the Plateau Indians, but they exhibited many cultural traits of the Plains Indians just east over the Rocky Mountains. They acquired horses and went on bison hunts on the Plains, often warring with Plains tribes. The Plains tepee was the usual dwelling. Western Flatheads used bark canoes, and fishing was important for all groups. Religious belief centred on guardian spirits, with whom one communicated in visions. Since 1872 the Flatheads have resided primarily on a reservation north of Missoula, Mont. In the 2000 U.S. census some 3,300 individuals claimed sole Salish descent and about 3,500 Salish and Kootenoi.

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people
 Salish-speaking North American Indian tribe of what is now western Montana, U.S., whose original territory extended from the crest of the Bitterroot Range to the Continental Divide of the Rocky Mountains and centred on the upper reaches of the Clark Fork of the Columbia River. Although early accounts referred to all Salish-speaking tribes as “Flathead,” the people now known by this name never engaged in head flattening (see also Salish).

      The Flatheads were the easternmost of the Plateau Indians (Plateau Indian); like other tribes that regularly traversed the Rocky Mountains, they shared many traits with nomadic Plains Indians (Plains Indian). The Flatheads acquired horses in great numbers and mounted annual fall expeditions to hunt bison on the Plains, often warring with tribes that were permanent residents of the area. Traditional Flathead culture also emphasized Plains-type warfare and its honours, including staging war dances, killing enemies, counting coups (touching enemies to shame or insult them), kidnapping women and children, and stealing horses.

      Before colonization, the Flathead usually lived in tepees; the A-framed mat-covered lodge, a typical Plateau structure, was also used. Western Flathead groups had bark canoes, while eastern groups used the bison-skin tubs known as bullboats that were typical of the Plains. Fishing was important among the Flathead, as it was among other Plateau tribes.

      Traditional Flathead religion centred on guardian spirits (guardian spirit), with whom individuals communicated in visions; a spirit could bring good fortune and health to the person it guarded or disease and misfortune to others. shamanism was also important to traditional religious and healing practices.

      Early 21st-century population estimates indicated more than 4,000 Flathead descendants.

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Universalium. 2010.

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