Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Flatheads and Huckleberries

Polson, Montana. Never heard of it until yesterday when we landed here. We stayed in out first KOA camp. Apparently, it is one of the better ones, I'm told. We snagged one of the better spots with it's own wood deck overlooking Flathead Lake. The area is a little hazy from fire smoke. I read where this fire originated in the Indian reservation nearby. There was some controversy about the Indians supposedly neglecting to put it out before it grew so big.

I hadn't known it, but half of Flathead Lake and a huge portion of the land south is a reservation. I imagined a flathead fish as the origin of the lake's name, but no, it turns out that Flathead is the name European settlers gave to the local Indians. How lovely. But then I remembered how pioneers called Germans, "square-heads," so go figure. Which leads me to believe that a good portion of Polson's early settlers were Germans. Maybe they nicknamed the Indians Flatheads, as they were accustomed to cranial observations. There does seem to be a lot of Germanic names on mailboxes in the eastern shoreline of Flathead Lake.

The 1855 Treaty of Hellgate divided the lake. The Indians got a 1.2 million acre reservation and $120 thousand dollars. The upper portion was offered up to private ownership. Somebody found that the land was suited to growing apples and cherries, and more European settlers. Too bad they didn't throw out Flathead in favor of the true tribes' names: Salish, or Kootenai.
The east shoreline is dotted with cute homesteads and orchards. Some areas, like Finley Point are like quaint little hamlets. Long country roads are marked at the entrances by wooden picket signs.

One the east side of the lake is a cute little town named, Bigfork which is situated near the very top of of 26-mile long lake. It is a cute little town where the main street is named "Electric Avenue" due to the power plant that was created there in the early 1900's. We bought a jar of huckleberry preserves which is the touristy thing to do. Huckleberries are everywhere in this area, and having never tasted any we thought we'd give it a try. I can only describe it as "blueberry caviar." On the road back we stopped at a fruit stand to buy cherries and fresh huckleberries which cost a hefty $15.00 for a couple handfuls. Maybe I'll get Robert to make a huckleberry pie since he's getting pretty handy in the Airstream kitchen.

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