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Indian Forts and Religious Icons: The Buffalo Road (Qoq’aalx ‘Iskit) Trail Before and After the Lewis and Clark Expedition

  • Sara A. ScottEmail author
Article

Abstract

The Buffalo Road Trail was used for centuries by Columbia Plateau Indians to access buffalo hunting grounds east of the Continental Divide. Peeled trees, rock cairns, and unique stone features represent archaeological signatures of the trail’s antiquity and demonstrate its extensive use. Ancient trails linked pre-contact camps and settlements and allowed for the diffusion of a variety of cultural items. From a landscape perspective, trails provide information relative to pre-contact travel, subsistence, trade, and warfare. Although significant to the indigenous people in the region, this and other trails were also used by European and American groups colonizing the American West over the past several centuries. Captain Meriwether Lewis, Jesuit missionary, Nicolas Point, and General John Gibbon were among those who traveled this well worn Indian road. Archaeological studies, oral histories and ethnographic and historical information underscore the importance of the trail to pre-contact, protohistoric, and historic people.

Keywords

Trails Landscape Trade Meriwether lewis Jesuit missionaries 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The USDA Forest Service/Helena National Forest and the Northern Regional Office are gratefully acknowledged for the use of information on the Buffalo Road and for allowing the author to conduct research on the trail. Former Forest Service employees, Margaret Gorski and Amy Teegarden, are thanked for their support in the documentation and interpretation of the Buffalo Road. Anthony Incoshola of the Salish and Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee and Thompson Smith provided oral history information for Lewis and Clark Pass. Chaney Bell supplied Salish language translations for various locations. Tim Ryan and Dave Schwab of EthnoTech, Inc. shared map information of traditionally used Salish Indian trails. Carl Davis and Caroline Patterson reviewed drafts of the manuscript and offered helpful comments and overall guidance. Eric Carlson produced the graphic illustrations. The author appreciates critical review comments on this article by Drs. Kelly Dixon, Charles Orser and Maria Zedeño. The manuscript was greatly improved by their thoughtful suggestions. The author is especially thankful for the feedback and guidance of her doctoral dissertation committee at the University of Montana, Department of Anthropology, including Rafael Chacon, Kelly Dixon, Douglas MacDonald, Anna Prentiss and Richard Sattler.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Montana State ParksLoloUSA

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