In 1910 the Flathead Indian Reservation in NW Montana was opened to Homesteaders by Congress under the Dawes Act with the best land allotted to the Native Americans and surplus lands to be sold to the Homesteaders. Of the 1.2 million acres comprising the Reservation, 451,000 acres were deemed available for homestead entry with an additional 60,000 acres set aside for townsites, reservoirs, power sites, educational and religious functions and other special purposes.
More than 80,000 people registered for lands on the Reservation with 3,000 names drawn in a lottery fashion in Missoula and Kalispell. Of those 3,000 only 403 people selected homesteads and made the required down payment. Subsequent name drawings did not exhaust the supply of homestead lots remaining and so midnight on October 31st the remaining units were thrown open to the public with squatter’s rights prevailing and a land rush ensued.
See firsthand examples of early Homesteaders efforts to survive, even thrive, in a challenging environment by visiting our charming and educational museum
The Polson-Flathead Historical Museum began through the efforts of J.F. ‘Faye’ McAlear in the early 1970s and is focused on the Native Americans, pioneers, and homesteaders who first inhabited the region, the only museum like it in the area. A few of the many items on exhibit that draw our visitors are:
• The Trading Post, originating from the 1880s
• Stagecoaches, a chuckwagon and buggies used as transportation
• A pioneer kitchen from ‘the good old days,’
• ‘The Flathead Monster,’ the 7 ½ ft sturgeon caught from Flathead Lake in 1955
• Calamity Jane’s saddle from her “Last Ride”
• Fire Fighting equipment and antique working trucks
The Museum is open 10a – 4p Monday-Saturday from Memorial Day through mid-September every year.
The Museum is CLOSED on Sunday.
We look forward to seeing you soon!