The Flathead Reservation measures about 65 by 35 miles east to west and is managed by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, with headquarters at Pablo. Of about 6,950 tribal members, some 4,500 live on or near the reservation. The Flathead population is centered at Arlee; most of the Kootenai tribal members live near Elmo .
The Mission Mountains Tribal Wilderness  is the first place in the United States where an Indian nation has designated tribal lands as a wilderness preserve. It covers the west side of the range’s peaks; to the east it’s the Flathead National Forest, with access from Highway 83 in the Swan Valley . Any hiking or camping in the Mission Mountains Tribal Wilderness requires a tribal conservation permit, available at many local stores. A three-day conservation permit costs $8 for non-Montanans; if you intend to fish on tribal land, which includes the southern half of Flathead Lake , get the $17 combined-use/fishing permit.