PABLO, Mont. - The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have recently
moved into a new tribal headquarters building in Pablo. Groundbreaking was
in April 2003 and employees began moving in this June. The
41,000-square-foot building essentially doubled the space available before
this building was completed. Tribal Executive Treasurer Vern Clairmont
explained, "We were kind of bursting at the seams. There was no space for
additional personnel and it was not feasible to continue."
The firm of MacArthur, Means & Wells, architects from Missoula, Mont., did
the design work for the $4.2 million building. They had previous experience
with reservation projects and incorporated Native aesthetics into the
design, both interior and exterior. The central portion is one story high,
circular in design with wooden posts across the glass entry suggestive of
tepees. A circular structure sits atop this area representing a drum. The
exterior beamwork reflects the tie-downs found on a drum. The entire
circular structure sits over the council chambers with a skylight into the
chambers. The front door faces the Mission Mountain Range to the east.
North and south wings to either side of the central section are two stories
high and continue the tepee-shaped posts and circular patterns. Clairmont
said landscaping was done either with native species that have some
connection to the tribes or species unique to area.
The interior design also reflects on both Native culture and the needs of
each separate department. The new building houses the following programs:
Tribal council member offices and chambers, Administration, Lands,
Education, Preservation, Personnel and Office of Support. Clairmont said,
"This should be lots more efficient than what we had before. We tried to
bring together services that should be together."
A sophisticated security system was also incorporated into the
construction. Employees are issued I.D. cards keyed to particular doors and
a scanner records, then photographs persons entering through those doors.
Photos are also automatically taken as a person leaves. This information is
stored on a computer. A camera is also operated by motion at the front door
as visitors arrive and leave. Clairmont explained the reason for such a
system by saying, "We were mostly concerned about unauthorized people in
the building. This system protects against most possible problems."
The tribal headquarters building sits across the highway from Salish
Kootenai College. Several pre-existing structures used for storage and
other purposes had to be taken down or removed and two mobile homes were
relocated to provide space for the new building and parking lot.
No name has been assigned the building yet but Clairmont said, "Tribal
council is considering the possibility of a name. It may be named in the