Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana helps to teach, inspire and connect communities and cultures.


Step into the past as you walk down the halls of our expansive exhibits and displays.  You will be greeted by Artwork from famous artists such as Ace Powell, E.S. Paxson, Charles Russell, Remington, Nancy McLaughlin and more.  Walk down the hall of photos to experience Early Montana through the eyes of a lens.  Learn about Native American Tribes in Montana and most importantly, those that call the Flathead Reservation home as you view up close their traditional clothing and other items that played a significant role in food production, hunting and celebration.  Because the Flathead Reservation was opened to homesteaders, our story would not be complete without displaying life as a cowboy, homesteader, fur trader or the first “blackrobe” missionaries.

Permanent Exhibits

The Confederated Salish, Kootenai & Pend d’Oreille Tribes of the Flathead Reservation.

Hudson Bay Company; St. Ignatius Blackrobes; Mary Ronan; Saddles of the West; Fur Trade; Spurs; Gun Collection

Temporary Exhibits

A display of Alaskan carved Ivory collected over a lifetime by Hugh Magnusson and his wife, Jutta.

A display of Moccasins from Montana Tribes.

Outdoor Exhibits

Meander outside to view 19th century living and transportation before walking along the nature trail. See the Jocko cabin, tipi poles, wagons and even a dugout canoe.

Nature Trail

The Ninepipes Museum nature trail is a short walk on a gravel trail through manicured grounds and magnificent views of the Mission Mountains throughout. The nature trail is bordered by the Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge, a nationally recognized bird watching area with Fish and Wildlife land on all sides. After exploring the Teepee rings, log cabin, wagons and dugout canoe, choose one of the benches or picnic tables to gaze at the duck-filled pond and abounding natural beauty. 


Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana cares for and preserves a unique and world-class collection of over 2000 items consisting of artwork, photos, and objects of Native American and Early Montana significance.  Its collection focuses on the lifestyle, history and culture of the people who lived in Mission Valley and western Montana, while giving an overall representation of early Montana and life “Out West.”  While we try to exhibit as much as we can, we don’t have room for everything to be on display all of the time, while others need to be rotated on and off exhibit in order to preserve them longer. 


See below for a sample of our online collections, how to preserve your loved-one’s objects by donating to the museum’s permanent collection, or how to assist the museum in preserving the past for the future.

Museum Catalog

View our online catalog to take a closer look at the Ninepipes Museum collections!

Scope of Collections

What do we collect?

The “history and culture of the Flathead Reservation and of Early Montana” as identified in the museum’s mission statement encompasses a large scope due to the melting pot of people, tribes and cultures that have flooded to what is today known as Montana. The definition of “Early Montana” extends into the prehistoric past but includes more recent history. “Early” represents a way of life rather than a time period or range of dates. Natural history, the land and animals that are found here, also plays an integral part in the culture, ritual, livelihood, and very survival of the early people who lived in what is today Montana. We support efforts to preserve the understanding of “Early Montana.” Thus, Ninepipes Museum accepts into its permanent collection objects of ethnography, history and natural history, along with works of art and photography that reflect this early lifestyle and culture, with a focus on the Flathead Reservation, and the culture, history, and natural history of Early Montana.

The museum manages four unique collections (Click on each one to jump to the explanation):

Flathead Reservation

The Flathead Reservation was established in 1855 at the signing of the Hellgate Treaty, as the home for the Salish, Pend d’Oreille and Kootenai Tribes, although the Salish did not arrive at the reservation until 1891. Ninepipes Museum collects and displays objects of cultural significance that are from each of these three tribes, their history and prehistory.

Culture of Early Montana

Culture by definition is the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or social group. Indigenous people were the first to inhabit what is today known as Montana–their oral traditions place some tribes here since creation. Early Native tribes claimed rights to seasonal hunting grounds, campsites, and places of trade.

History of Early Montana

By definition, history is marked by the presence of written record.  Ninepipes Museum has in its collections and exhibits a vast array of objects, art and photography that reflects the early history of Montana, which can generally be traced back to the Lewis and Clark expedition, as well as the era of trading companies, specifically the Hudson’s Bay Company which was present in the Mission Valley.

Natural History of Early Montana

The natural history of what is today Montana includes large game animals, medium sized to small mammals, reptiles, birds, and plants. The museum has in its permanent collections mounted animals that represent those that have lived in this area. Artwork held in the museum’s collections also reflect the Natural history of Montana. Objects of geology and paleontology generally are not referred to in the mission statement or collected, except as applied to cultural material as used by the people of early Montana. Plants are generally not collected except as depicted in artwork or as used in cultural material.

Donate to the Collection

For those who are passionate about preserving their objects or family heirlooms,
who want to play an important role in educating others about Early Montana,
please consider donating to the museum’s permanent collection.

What's Happening

Click on the news links below to learn what's happening at Ninepipes Museum - past & present.

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