Salish Elders say that they, and many other tribes, were placed on this earth as one Salishan-speaking people. but they separated thousands of years ago into different bands. These individual bands then became separate tribes in different parts of the Northwest. eventually speaking different dialects of the Salish language. Their migration route extended from British Columbia to the present-day states of Washington, Idaho, Montana and beyond.

Several large bands of Salish (later misnamed Flatheads) camped throughout Montana from the Bitterroot to the Yellowstone Valleys; however, encroachment from non-Indians led to the eventual concentration of the tribe in the Bitterroot Valley. The Pend d'Oreille settled in the Flathead Valley. A bank of Kalispel, according to the late Mitch Smallsalmon, camped along the Flathead River near Perma and then at Camas Prairie.

People were a part of the environment, traveling and living. They didn't separate themselves from the natural world but were a part of it. Everything was in order.

At night during the winter months, the Elders of the tribes related coyote stories about their ancestors to eager listeners both young and old. These narratives explained natural phenomena and illustrated moral principles such as how the world came into being, the history of the tribe, past leaders, heroes and relatives, and practical things such as how to make items needed in camp. Most importantly, these narratives taught the children to be respectful listeners so that they could understand the lessons of their lifestyles and pass them on to future generations.