I Will Be Meat for My Salish – The Montana Writers Project and the Buffalo of the Flathead Indian Reservation

$19.00 each


Authentic look at Flathead Indian Reservation and pre-reservation Salish history, through oral interviews from the 1920s and 1930s.


The buffalo was a generous provider for the Montana Salish Indians; but the buffalo was not only an economic commodity for subsistence. This book provides an authentic window into life on the Flathead Indian Reservation and pre-reservation Salish history—and particularly the Salish relationship to the buffalo—through oral interviews conducted in the 1920s and 1930s and preserved by the Montana Writers Project.

These firsthand accounts of Salish elders—including legends, information about traditional lifeways, biographies of important reservation figures and most of all about the buffalo—offer a glimpse into tribal life as it was in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In many of the interviews for the Montana Writers Project, tribal elders emphasized the importance of respecting the buffalo and all of the plants and animals that supported the Salish people.

In the pre-reservation period, buffalo provided meat for the Salish—as well as robes for bedding, skins for tepee coverings, clothing, footgear, sinew and bone splinters for sewing, and many other of life’s necessities. Integral to Salish spirituality and culture, the buffalo had become scarce by the 1870s, when a young Salish man named Sam Walking Coyote captured a number of buffalo calves and brought them home to the Flathead Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana. This domesticated herd was instrumental in preserving the buffalo after their extermination on the Plains in the 1880s. Today some of the descendents of Walking Coyote’s calves still dwell on the National Bison Range, near Moiese, Montana, surrounded by the Flathead Indian Reservation.

Robert Bigart is Director of the Salish Kootenai College Press and has worked at the college since 1979. He began researching Flathead Indian Reservation and Salish tribal history in the late 1960s.

The illustrations for this book are by noted Native American artist Dwight W. BilleDeaux, a member of the Blackfeet tribe who has married into the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. For more than twenty years, he has taught art students on the Flathead Indian Reservation. His illustrations have appeared in numerous books and in galleries around the world.




Author: Bon I. Whealdon

Editor: Robert Bigar

Illustrations: Black and white illustrations by Dwight W. BilleDeaux

Binding Availability: Paperback

Published: 2001

Tribes/Ethnic Groups: Salish