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This small community was laid out in 1895 along with the establishment of a post office. The town’s name is a Kootenai tribal word meaning “water people,” reflecting the presence of Native Americans who occupied the land until white pioneers migrated west. Once recognized as buffalo hunters, the remote Kutenai people left the plains and settled in this region’s forested areas to escape conflicts with homesteaders.

In 1899, the Northern Pacific Railroad came through and bolstered the town’s economy as a lumbering center. Today, the town is most widely known for the 2,700-acre Kootenai Wildlife Refuge. 215 varieties of birds have been sighted at this refuge.

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