Montana: Rocky Boy


Originally living in Canada, a small group of Cree broke off and migrated south in the late 1800s. This band eventually combined with a tribe of nomadic Chippewa led by Chief Rocky Boy. His name means “Stone Child,” but it was incorrectly translated into English as “Rocky Boy.” The resulting tribe call themselves “Ne Hiyawak” which means “those who speak the same language”. 

History of the Reservation: A Congressional Statute in 1916 created the Rocky Boy Reservation as part of the former Fort Assiniboine Military Reserve. The Chippewa Cree Tribe was one of the first tribes to enter the self-governance program in its early years and is the only compact tribe in the region. 

Life on the Reservation: The Rocky Boy Reservation is the smallest in the state at about 17,000 acres (the size of Cleveland). It is in the Bear Paw Mountains in north-central Montana. Sources say 2,500 to 6,000 people are enrolled with the tribe. 

Agriculture, ranching and forestry sustain the economy. The tribe also owns a ski area and a steel manufacturing facility. Access to resources is a significant problem for the 3,800 residents, many of whom live far away from towns and services. Other major employers include the schools, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Service and tribal government. Despite these activities, more than a quarter (27%) of the reservation’s population lives in poverty. The average annual household income is $37,000 and 13% of the workforce is jobless.  

Rocky Boy on the map: North-central Montana 


Income, Poverty, Population and and  

Enrollment, General Info and