North of Sula stands the trunk of a large ponderosa pine estimated to be around 400 years old. It is the Medicine Tree, which has been an important landmark to local Native Americans since before Lewis and Clark passed through the Bitterroot Valley in 1805. The Medicine Tree is sacred to the Bitterroot Salish, the Native Americans indigenous to the Bitterroot Valley.
The Medicine Tree began to die near the end of the 20th century. In September 2001 a strong storm snapped the tree’s trunk about 20 feet above the ground. The ram’s horn is now gone, but the Medicine Tree and its location remain sacred to the Salish, who make at least two pilgrimages each year to their historic homeland from the Flathead Reservation north of Missoula. They continue to leave offerings and personal items tacked to the trunk of the Medicine Tree or placed in a hollow at its base.
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