Located in a valley formed by a prehistoric glacial lake, Missoula is a vibrant mountain town rich with history.
Missoula is located in the aboriginal territories and traditional lands of the Salish and Kalispel people. We acknowledge and honor, with respect, the Indigenous Nations on whose traditional territories we now stand and whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.
Modern day Missoula lies at the bottom of what once was Glacial Lake Missoula, a 3000 square mile lake held in place by a glacial dam. The first known human settlements in the area date as far back as 3500 BCE, and the lands were occupied by the Bitterroot Salish (Séliš), Pend d’Oreille (Ql̓ispé), Nez Perce (Nimíipuu), Coeur d’Alene (Schi̲tsu’umsh), and Kootenai (Ktunʌ́χɑ̝) peoples. The first white people to encounter Missoula were members of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1805. The city we know today was founded in 1860 as the Hellgate Trading Post, later renamed Missoula Mills and then shortened to Missoula. A wealth of information about Missoula’s heritage can be found at the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula.