The name "Flathead" comes from what the first white men called the first nations in this region.
The name is often said to derive from the flat head produced by binding infants' skulls with boards. However, this is mistaken folk etymology, as the tribes never practiced head flattening. In fact, the Salish were called "flat head" precisely because the tops of their heads were not distorted, as were those of neighboring tribespeople who practiced vertical head-binding. The sign language used by neighboring tribes to distinguish the Flatheads consisted of "pressing each side of the head" with the hands. The Flatheads call themselves Salish meaning the people.