Séliš-Ql̓ispé Ethnogeographic Signs Initiative (SQESI)


From the earliest SQCC recordings in 1975, the elders told us about place-names. They wanted us to learn these powerful words and all they have to teach us about our spirituality, our cultural relationships with the lands and waters, and our history.

For almost half a century, the culture committee has combed through our recordings of the elders, and also searched for information provided by earlier generations of elders held in archives and libraries across the country and the world. We have carried out extensive fieldwork throughout our aboriginal lands, recording the memories and insights of elders, and continue to do so today. We’ve held countless meetings with elders to review and correct our work. The materials that are coming out of the Séliš- Ql̓ispé Ethnogeography Project are based on that massive and rigorous foundation of research and consultation.

We have now documented approximately 1500 Salish place-names across our vast territories. But we don’t want this material to gather dust on a shelf. We want it to be part of the revitalization of our cultural ways. We want to fulfill the dream of our elders that one day, we will once again know these places by the names they were called by the ancestors. This project is therefore also dedicated to returning our place-names to our daily lives and to the land itself.

To that end, we launched the Séliš-Ql̓ispé Ethnogeographic Signs Initiative (SQESI): the installation of a series of map-centered signs in locations across our territories, both inside and outside of the Flathead Reservation. In most locations, we've put up one sign; in some locations, we have a two-sign set. Each sign (or two-sign set) has a map of that part of our territories, with Salish place-names, their translations into English, and the English place-names. And in each sign (or two-sign set), we also convey, in words and images, the importance of that particular area to our people — both in the past and in the present-day. In this way, the signs are helping reestablish the Séliš-Ql̓ispé presence in these areas, informing readers of our continuing connection to the places and place-names of our homelands. The signs have been given a beautiful, integrated look by graphic artist Joanna Yardley of Missoula.

We have now completed SQESI signs covering 10 out of 22 planned areas. Because many of the signs cover a large area, such as an entire drainage system, some signs are up in more than one location. As more signs go up in coming months and years, we will add them to this webpage.

We hope you enjoy visiting these signs and reconnecting with the cultural importance of each of these places for the Séliš and Ql̓ispé people. Click on the pin for directions to the sign.



Meaning of the Months


The Hand Shaking Month

Long ago, before the coming of the Black Robes and the trappers, our people, the Pend d' Oreille and Salish, would gather together for the mid-winter ceremonies. In these gatherings, they would sing what is called a hand shaking song.

The second name for January came about through the influences of the trappers and traders. During this time the people would gather together and shoot off their rifles and guns at midnight to welcome the New Year. After they shot off their rifles and guns, they would go back inside and sing the hand shaking song. After the song was sung, the people would have a small meal and head off to bed.

On New Year's Day, people gather at different homes for a day of feasts and fun. After the meal, we would drum and sing and dance. Then we have the Jump Dance. After this is all over, someone would stand up say where we’ll all be gathering for the next day,  (at somebody else's home) to continue the Jump Dance. The Jump Dance continues for four days usually.  Today, we have the Jump Dance here at the Long House.  It is a time of giving thanks in prayers and thought. It is a time of renewal for the people and their families for the coming year.


Coldest Month

This is the month that our people regarded as the coldest month of the year. They called it  ¢Äosqn because it meant it was very very cold. The weather was often below zero during this month and the snow deep. This month was a long hard time for the Indian people.


The Month of the Geese

When the geese were spotted flying in from the south,that was a good sign that the winter months were coming to an end. It was time to look ahead to warmer weather. During the first part of the month, some of the people would go to certain lakes to snag and trap fish. The people would be preparing for their hunting trips, berry picking, and root digging. This is also when the blackbirds would be arriving.


Month of the Buttercup

This is the Spring month. The first thunder is heard this month. All the bears, snakes, gophers, and other hibernating animals come out. Coyote stories are no longer told, they have been put away until the next snow fall.  This is also the month when the S§iya¶mn(buttercup), yellow bells and little dog, pussy willows are in bloom. The Salish-Pend d'Oreille people used the S§iya¶mn as a medicine. The yellow bell was used as a fruit. It would be mixed with bitterroot.


Month of Bitterroot           

About in May, each year the Salish & Pend d’Oreille people start digging S¿eém (bitterroot). When it was time to dig S¿eém, the Chief would select a group of women to go ahead and check the roots to see if it was ready. If it peeled easily, then it was ready. Following the feast, everyone is then free to dig all that they need.  A long time ago the people, they'd all get together when it was time to dig bitterroot or camas and go together and camp for days where the bitterroot was plenty-full . They were making and storing food for the winter. Now days most of us are rich in food. We don't have such a hard time during the winter for our food anymore. But a long time ago the Indians had to make and store food all summer for the winter months as we had no money to be buying food each day or week like now.


Month Of Camas

This is usually the month when the Camas is ready to dig. The Camas is baked in the ground for three days with black tree moss. During this month the Salish People make bark baskets for berry picking. The bark is taken from Lodge pole and Cedar trees. We are always careful not to take too much off one tree so it won’t kill the tree. Tipi poles are cut during this month as well, they peel easier. When the wild-rose blossoms our people know that the buffalo are nice and fat. When the strawberries were ripe, the baby elk and deer were born.


Celebration Month

This is the middle of the summer months when all the people get together to celebrate and give thanks that they survived the wars and the long hard winter. The people donate in many ways to celebrate at this time of year. Each day several Indian leaders would gather at the Chiefs tipi to discuss the activities for that day. After they had it all planned, the camp crier would ride among the encampment to announce each activity. The annual Arlee Celebration is usually the first weekend of this month. 


Month of the Huckleberry

The huckleberries ripen in the month of August and some as early as late July.  The SÉÇÛ grew in abundance years ago. If they are plentiful, we would pick enough to last all winter and spring.

Our people use cedar bark baskets made earlier in the year for holding the berries. The baskets are light-weight and easy to carry. Berries never get crushed in these baskets. Other berries that are also ripe at this time are foam berries (Indian Ice Cream Berries), thimbleberries, and raspberries.    As we still do today, through out the entire month of August we are picking and gathering the berries.


Month of the Chokecherry

 The chokecherry is a dark red or black berry grown on tall bushes. It is one of the foods the Salish - Pend d' Oreille people picked for their winter supply.

This is also the month for wild grapes.  After it is picked it may be eaten fresh or mashed for drying.  Elderberries were also picked during this month. September is usually the month our people gathered the last of the berries for the winter supplies.


Hunting Month

A hunting party of young men would go up into hunting grounds. A leader would appoint two scouts to make a corral.  The leader would give the directions and calls to let them know when to be ready and when to make moves. This way they would not waste any ammunition and you will have enough for another hunt. The animals were chased into the corral and only what was needed was taken.  After the men killed enough meat for the camp they would then take all the meat back to camp. The women would slice and dry the meat and divide it equally among all the camps.  They would pack their meat in their hunting packs and start for home.


Story Telling

Story telling begins after the first snowfall. This is a time of year when the Salish people relax from the Summer and early Fall harvesting seasons.  Stories are told by parents and grandparents to the younger generations. The children are encouraged to  sit quietly and listen with thoughts of their own about being part of the stories. The stories teach and tell of values and morals.  From these stories we can still today see landmarks that tell us of the creation of mankind. From these stories, we learn how mankind came to be.  In early spring the stories are put away and are not to be told until snowfall again in the winter season.  


Trapping Month

This is the time of the year when Salish and Pend d' Oreille did the trapping. Some time ago, we trapped martin, weasel, mink, otter, beaver and muskrat. We use the skins of these animals in different ways - braid wraps, trimming for outfits among other uses.  Today, these animals aren’t in as much as abundance as they once were long ago and are trapped and used carefully. 




Copyright Notice

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Privacy Policy

This privacy policy has been compiled to better serve those who are concerned with how their 'Personally identifiable information' (PII) is being used online. PII, as used in US privacy law and information security, is information that can be used on its own or with other information to identify, contact, or locate a single person, or to identify an individual in context. Please read our privacy policy carefully to get a clear understanding of how we collect, use, protect or otherwise handle your Personally Identifiable Information in accordance with our website.

What personal information do we collect from the people that visit our website?

When our contact form is filled out will be asked to enter your name and email address in order for us to respond to your questions and help you with your experience.

When do we collect information?

We collect information from you when you fill out our contact form. The contact information is then discarded once the inquiry has been resolved.

How do we use your information?

We may use the information we collect from you when you register or make a purchase in the following ways:

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How do we protect visitor information?

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California Online Privacy Protection Act

CalOPPA is the first state law in the nation to require commercial websites and online services to post a privacy policy. The law's reach stretches well beyond California to require a person or company in the United States (and conceivably the world) that operates websites collecting personally identifiable information from California consumers to post a conspicuous privacy policy on its website stating exactly the information being collected and those individuals with whom it is being shared, and to comply with this policy. - See more at: http://consumercal.org/california-online-privacy-protection-act-caloppa/#sthash.0FdRbT51.dpuf

According to CalOPPA we agree to the following:

Users can visit our site anonymously

Once this privacy policy is created, we will add a link to it on our home page, or as a minimum on the first significant page after entering our website. Our Privacy Policy link includes the word 'Privacy', and can be easily be found on the page specified above.

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Does our site allow third party behavioral tracking?

It's also important to note that we do not allow third party behavioral tracking

COPPA (Children Online Privacy Protection Act)

When it comes to the collection of personal information from children under 13, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) puts parents in control. The Federal Trade Commission, the nation's consumer protection agency, enforces the COPPA Rule, which spells out what operators of websites and online services must do to protect children's privacy and safety online.

We do not specifically market to children under the age of 13.

Fair Information Practices

The Fair Information Practices Principles form the backbone of privacy law in the United States and the concepts they include have played a significant role in the development of data protection laws around the globe. Understanding the Fair Information Practice Principles and how they should be implemented is critical to comply with the various privacy laws that protect personal information.

In order to be in line with Fair Information Practices we will take the following responsive action, should a data breach occur:

We will notify the users via email

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We also agree to the individual redress principle, which requires that individuals have a right to pursue legally enforceable rights against data collectors and processors who fail to adhere to the law. This principle requires not only that individuals have enforceable rights against data users, but also that individuals have recourse to courts or a government agency to investigate and/or prosecute non-compliance by data processors.


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Contacting Us

If there are any questions regarding this privacy policy you may contact us using the information below.
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