Photograph of Flathead Chief Smoking Pipe in Headdress
February 15, 2023
This photo, taken by Missoula photographer Rollin H. Mckay in the early 20th century, shows a Flathead chief demonstrating the use of his pipe.
McKay came out West to be a barber, but quickly discovered a love of photography. He set up a professional studio in Missoula in the early 1910s and enjoyed a bustling trade in photographing western Montana for many years until his retirement in the 1940s.
History does not seem to record the name of his subject in this photo, but the bead and feather-work in his headdress and jewelry are exquisite. He is identified as a chief in the historical information accompanying this photo, so his dress probably bespeaks his stature within the tribe.
You can also see the simple, elegant craftsmanship that went into the construction of his pipe.
Be sure to zoom in on the picture so you can see every detail!