MISSOULA — Messages of peace and respect highlighted a Wednesday afternoon ceremony as Missoula County formally acknowledged the importance and legacy of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
New CSKT Tribal Chairwoman Shelly Fyan called the moment "refreshing" and "amazing" and hopes it shows the way for all Montana counties to acknowledge their local tribal partners.
"(It) really solidifies the friendship and cooperation we have already. But I think it really does it in a more tangible way by welcoming into our chamber this flag of a sovereign nation," said Missoula County commissioner Dave Strohmaier.
The hour-long ceremony was the latest effort by Missoula County commissioners to open a better intergovernmental relationship with the CSKT Tribe.
The board named its meeting room after tribal leader Sophie Moise last year -- and that room was filled with county officials and tribal leaders as commissioners formally presented the CSKT tribal flag as one of the banners on permanent display.
Commissioners said they wanted to acknowledge the Salish people's legacy and importance to Missoula County, noting how the tribe's leaders and history are everywhere in the area's place names and history.
Chairwoman Fyant graciously accepted the acknowledgment, saying it's a "great relationship" for the future. "Like I said earlier, I feel like it is an effort toward reconciliation and just the acknowledgment of the Salish People and where we come from, and who we are."
The county also formally unveiled two new prints by nationally-renowned tribal artist, and CSKT member Jaune Quick-to-See-Smith that will be on permanent display in the meeting room.
The ceremony marked a joint meeting when Missoula County commissioners visited the tribal council in Pablo earlier this month.