Although this community was originally known as Big Flat and then Charlotte, US Governor and Senator, Joseph Dixon, was influential in changing the town’s name to Charlo to honor the area’s Native American history.
During the late 1800s, Chief Charlo of the Flathead Indians refused to sign James A. Garfield’s August 27, 1872 decree ordering all Native Americans to leave the area and migrate to the Jocko Reservation. Chief Charlo refused to follow the order for several years and begged the US Government to let him and his tribe remain in their beloved Bitterroot Valley. However, the government would not agree to his pleas. When Chief Charlo’s people became sick and hungry due to lack of supplies, he knew his people had to move. He had been defeated, but he had been defeated peacefully, an ideal for which Chief Charlo strived. In remembrance of these events, the community’s name now reflects its Native American heritage.