May 14, 2013 10:29 AM by Jacqueline Quynh - KPAX News
MISSOULA - Monday was billed as "Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Day," marking a historic meeting between the city of Missoula and the tribes.
The sovereign nation on the Flathead Reservation had waited 130 years to see what happened on Monday occur.
CSKT was recognized by the city of Missoula as a sovereign nation for the first time, and that's why it's a new chapter for dialogue and cooperation between the city and the tribal council.
"It marks the first time for us [that], the city neighboring the reservation has reached to try and establish some formal relationships with the council. And involve us in discussions early on as they move forward with efforts in the community rather than after, so we're encouraged," CSKT Chairman Joe Durglo explained.
The meeting was council member Dave Strohmaier's brainchild. He says the recognition was long overdue, and hopes it'll strengthen economic development and education in the community.
"Some of this collaboration is already going on today in terms of businesses, tribal businesses who might employ residents in Missoula or collaborate with folks in the Missoula Valley on projects,"Strohmaier said.
"There's already more opportunities for collaboration between educational institutions on the Flathead reservation and University of Montana," he added.
The CSKT and the Missoula City Council also want to work on doing more to highlight Missoula's heritage with signage and historical designations. A set schedule of meetings is being planned for the rest of the year.