Victor A. Charlo

Victor A. Charlo, an elder of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, is a direct descendent of the chiefs who signed the historic Hellgate Treaty.

Born and raised on the Flathead Reservation in western Montana, Vic writes poems about reservation life and people, his family, and his journeys with researcher Chuck Jonkel to visit the polar bears near the Arctic Circle. Vic earned degrees at the University of Montana and Gonzaga University. In addition to his poems, he has written and produced plays which examine Native American life and mythologies. Recently, the new theatre building at Salish Kootenai College was named in honor of Vic Charlo. Vic resides in Old Agency, near Dixon, Montana.

Victor Charlo is the proud father of four children and many grandchildren. His youngest daughter, April, has translated three of her father’s poems into the native Salish language.  She has written, in Put Sey (Good Enough), an introductory essay to her father’s life and works. She tells the history of her family, how her grandparents thought it best that their children attend the white man’s schools and learn English. Consequently, Victor Charlo and many other children in his generation were discouraged from learning their native tongue. As a child, April Charlo understood the sadness of her family’s withering traditions. “In school I watched a movie about Indian boarding schools,” April writes,”and the terrible fates the children encountered if they spoke their native tongue. I was horrified by the truth. And so, I pledged to learn Salish and do what I could to help the language survive.”

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Last modified: December 15, 2011