CSKT, Missoula City Council Hold First Joint Meeting - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

CSKT, Missoula City Council Hold First Joint Meeting

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More than a century after the founding of Missoula, City Council and the Tribal Council of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes met formally for the first time Monday evening.

City counselors are calling it a new day for relations between the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the Missoula community.

A prayer started off the meeting, marking a historical moment for the community.

"This is a very exciting day," said city counselor Dave Strohmaier. "The Missoula Valley, which we inhabit here, has been occupied by people long before the first white settlers came through Missoula."

This is the first time a meeting was held in a formal setting between the Tribal Council, and the city.

"It's long overdue that we both recognize the sovereignty of the Confederated and Kootenai Tribes, but also look for ways in which we can collaborate in the future."

Tribal Elder Louis Adams has always known Missoula as home.

"Our people used to camp over by where the university is," Adams said. "Our people used to camp there. My grandmother was born right there, where the park is by the university, over by the river."

Adams said it's about time a meeting has been held to bring everyone together.

"I think it's real important, just for the fact we're together, regardless of colors out there," he said. "We're all still one people. It's important to all of us."

The purpose of the meeting is to figure out how the city and tribes can collaborate in areas like economic development.

City counselors said they also want to learn how they can better preserve tribal culture, and how they can more effectively serve the large number of urban Native Americans living in Missoula.

"I don't see this as first or last step," Strohmaier said. "It's an opening in conversation to look for ways we share commonality, in ways we might move forward here in Montana."

The meeting came after a resolution was passed in December to improve communication between the City and tribes.

City counselors said they hope the meeting is the first of many to come.

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