Home

I’m sure the lake must have a name in the language of the Kootenai (Ktunaxa/Ksanka), upon whose historic territory it rests. The lake is just beyond the edge of a huge valley, through which the Big Blackfoot River runs. No doubt, it has names in other Indigenous languages too, as the path laid by the Blackfoot River was well travelled by Native Americans of several nations. In English, however, the lake is named for a long-passed miner, Charles Cooper.

I have no idea when the lake was given Cooper’s  name, though the area, still sparsely populated, was first settled permanently by whites around the same time that the Kootenai and others were being restricted to their shrinking reservations. In fact, the nearest town, Ovando, was named for a local settler who left his work at the Flathead Indian Reservation, after being spooked by the so-called “Nez Perce War” of 1877 (Margaret Ronan, Girl from the Gulches; The Story of Mary Ronan, 2003, 177),  Incidentally, this was a war that the New York Times said was “on our part [the whites], … in its origin and motive nothing short of a gigantic blunder and a crime” (“A Lesson from the Nez Perces,” Oct. 15, 1877).

I would like to know the name that the Kootenai gave to the lake. I will ask a speaker of the language about it someday, though I suspect the name is forgotten. As it is, I simply think of the lake as “home,” for my sisters and I share a cabin there.

lake

3 Responses to “Home”

  1. Brandon Says:

    …A Toast to you and all Ovando residents at Trixie’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A “Home Water” Poem | The Literary Fly Fisher Says:

    […] Montana. Afterwards, I stopped by the closest fly shop, The Blackfoot Angler, in the tiny town of Ovando. As I entered the shop, a book of poetry happened to catch my eye. I flipped through it and […]

    Like

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