Stephen Small Salmon was born in St. Ignatius, Montana on May 10, 1939 to Mary and Mitch Small Salmon. He is Pend Orielle, a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, lives on the CSKT Flathead Reservation in Western Montana.
Stephen attended school at Ursuline Mission Boarding School in St. Ignatius, Ronan Middle and High Schools. He was also sent to Pierre, South Dakota and the Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas. On his return he worked in timber jobs and then as a sawyer for decades in the mountains until he began teaching the Salish language at various reservation schools in the 1990's.
From 2003 to the present, Stephen has been teaching the Salish language and culture at N'Kusm Language Institute in Arlee, Montana. Teaching is not just a job to Stephen, but an opportunity to pass on what he knows of his language and culture. The identity, culture, and well-being of Native peoples lie within their languages. He believes that if the children learn to speak their language, respect their elders, walk the mountains studying the Indian medicines, and know the songs/dances, they will always know who they are. He wants them to be proud to be Indian.
Stephen is well-known in Indian Country as he has been a Champion Mens Traditional dancer and drummer on the Pow Wow Trail since he was introduced to dancing by his Grandfather, Alexander Beaverhead, over 75 years ago. He is still dancing and traveling the trail.
Stephen serves on the Salish/Pend d'Oreille Elders' Advisory Council. He was raised in his culture by Mitch and Mary Small Salmon, his maternal Grandfather Alexander Beaverhead, his Uncle Pete Beaverhead and his Uncle Twepe.
In May 2012 he was Awarded an Honorary Bachelor of Arts Degree in Native Studies by Salish Kootenai College in recognition of his many years of work with Indian children at N'Kusm. As a fun project in his life he has done several plays, tv commercials, print work, and portrayed the character, Flying Bear, in an Independent Film titled, The Last Beyond to be released 2019.