History & Culture

Historic photo of men standing outside a cabin.The spectacular landscape of the Kootenai National Forest was shaped by continental and alpine glaciers. Valleys and their drainages were carved out and lakes were left behind. This created the land that the early American Indians inhabited, adapting to the mountains.

The prehistory of the Forest goes back at least 8,000 years, when people moved across the landscape hunting and gathering. Through the use of geological, biological, sociological, and archaeological evidence, archaeologists have been piecing together how the natives used this land called Kootenai. There is a tremendous amount of evidence of their occupation, that not only provides valuable information about their land use but also is considered by the Kootenai Tribe as a vital link to their heritage. The historical period of the Forest began with the arrival of the early explorer, David Thompson. Fur trading, railroad construction, mining and logging activities flourished in this vast land rich in resources. Evidence of these sites are also scattered throughout the forest.

Sites, 100 years old and older, are protected by the Archaeological Resources Protection Act and violation of this law is a felony. Historic sites that are younger than 100 years old are protected by Federal Regulations. These laws are intended to protect these sites for current and future generations to learn about our past. A protected or properly excavated site offers opportunities for historic presentations in our community and for becoming an interpretive site with remnants of the past. When understood in the historic and prehistoric context of a preserved site, the rich story of our past emerges.


Kootenai National Forest - Celebrating 100 Years of History

While 2005 marked the Centennial of the USDA Forest Service, the Kootenai National Forest celebrated its 100 year birthday in August 2006. "The Future of Our Past" is a comprehensive look at the history of the Kootenai National Forest over the past 100 years and is filled with stories, historical photos, and placenames from across the Kootenai. Hardcopy newsprint versions of this document are also available at all Forest offices. We encourage you to learn about the history of the Kootenai National Forest and to enjoy "The Future of Our Past".

Kootenai National Forest - Celebrating 100 Years of History; The Future of Our Past  - (pdf | 10.9mb)