St. Ignatius, Montana is a small town in Montana, located in Lake County and more significantly on the Flathead Indian Reservation. The town is located an hour's drive north of Missoula.

The town is named after the founder of the Jesuit Order, St. Ignatius Loyola, since the monks who came to convert the Salish Tribes were from that order. The Catholic mission was established in the 1850s, and the current church was built in the 1890s.

The Flathead Indian Reservation has managed to evade many of the problems with poverty associated with many Indian reservations in the United States, perhaps because it is on land that is actually usable. St. Ignatius, like most of the towns on the reservation, is on US Highway 93, Western Montana's major highway, and this gives the town a good economic basis, especially in tourism. The town is about half Native American, although in some neighborhoods of the town, it is much more, and in some much less. The remainder of the town's residents are of European descent, and there are several sizable colonies of Amish.

The major landmark in the town is the Mission Church, which on the outside is a fairly standard looking building, but on the inside is decorated with religious art that (to use a cliche that must be used in this case) must be seen to be believed. Most of the paintings were made by a monk whose main job was to be the cook of the mission, and who managed to make dozens of pictures covering every inch of the interior, depicting numerous scenes from the bible and the life of the saints. There is also two large portraits, depicting Jesus and Mary as Salish Indians. It is an incredible thing to find in such a small town. It is also something that students of religion and Native American history, and many other related fields, might view with some amount of ambiguity.

The other attraction of the town for me is the somewhat unexpected ethnic mixture present in the town. Signs in the town are bilingual, in Salish and English, and there is also a sizable amount of German speaking Amish. When I observed an Amish store where the workers were speaking amongst themselves in German, and then greeting a Native American family who walked in in English, I realized that the cultural situation in this town was rather unique, and much more unique than someone passing by on the highway might ever guess.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.