Buffalo Trail

After Francis Callougah came from the Kalispel reservation in Washington State to speak in Sandpoint in 1990, the Kalispel returned to North Idaho to continue a public dialogue with the residents of Bonner County. I remember in fondness the gatherings they held at the Drift year near Clark Fork to renew and celebrate their historical gatherings in that location. The large circle of dancers, both Kalispel and local residents moving hand-in-hand in a joint celebration of this remarkable delta of the Clark Fork river, still brings warm memories of these gatherings in my mind.

In the 1880’s, pan-tribal encampments were held there with Kalispel, Couer d’ Alenes, Spokanes and others. Here at the delta they socialized, traded, and raced their horses on the extensive grasslands which grew there before the dam was erected. These families came seasonally to wait for one another, so they could begin the long journey up the Clark Fork and over the continental divide to enter the Buffalo grounds of Montana. Traces of the old “buffalo trail” are still discernible along the river. And, today, you can drive comfortably in your car along the buffalo trail between Trout Creek and Thompson Falls (highway 472).