For millennia, the Blackfoot River corridor has been part of the homeland of the Salish and Pend d'Oreille people. They and visiting members of other tribes used a vast network of trails to criss-cross this region of great abundance — rich in game, fish, roots and bulbs, berries, medicinal plants, paint, and countless other resources.
Long before the advent of modern highways, the Clearwater Junction area — known in Salish as Čćnpá (pronounced Ch-tsin-pah — the name of a prominent warrior) — was also a junction in the Salish-Pend d'Oreille transportation system, From here, trails reached to the four directions.
To the east, the trail continued past the Ovando area, called Sntntnmsqá (Sin-tin-tin-im-skah — Place Where A Person Tightens a Horse's Reins). From here, people crossed the Continental Divide via several passes to reach the buffalo-rich prairies of the Dearborn, Sun, and Missouri Rivers.
To the south trails traversed the hills to the Clark Fork River.
To the west, the trail continued down the confluence with the Clark Fork, called N?aycčstm (Jn-aye-ts-ch-sten — Place of the Big Bull Trout), and places beyond.
And to the north, trails lead toward Placid Lake, called Čtáll?e (Chithl-qul-il-eh — Referring to Dry Land Exposed when the Lake Recedes in Fall) and Seeley Lake,
called Ept Ćixwćwt (Epthl Tsiwh-tsuwht — Has Ospresy).
From the Seeley-Swan, trails led east to the Bob Marshall Wilderness, west toward the Jocko and Mission Valleys, and north to the mouth of the Swan River at Bigfork, called Nqeytkwm ( Jn-qeythl-kwum, Referring to the Sound of Falling Water).
These ancient trails and placenames and hundreds of others, continue to hold great importance to the Salish and Pend d'Oreille people today.