Blackfeet Indian Reservation (Montana)

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Blackfeet Indian Reservation (Montana)
275px-Blackfeet Indian Reservation.jpg
Blackfeet Indian Reservation (Montana)

The Blackfeet Indian Reservation is located in northwestern Montana, on the Canadian border, just east of Glacier National Park and west of Cut Bank, Montana, primarily in Glacier County, with a small portion in Pondera County.

Established -- September 17, 1851 (the first Fort Laramie Treaty) and 17 October 1855 (by Treaty), modified by later treaties, executive orders, and agreements. [1]
Agency (BIA) -- Blackfeet Agency located at Browning; Old Agency near Choteau, Montana; and Running Crane Agency.
Principal tribes -- Assiniboine, Blackfeet (Siksika), Blood (Kainah), Piegan, Flathead Tribes, Gros Ventre Indians including the Crow Tribe of Indians (they are the Chippewa People known as the People of the Falls or Falls People), Kalispel Tribe of Indians, Little Shell Chippewa Tribe, Nez Perce Tribe (they are Amikwa Ojibwas), Pend d'Oreilles, and Spokane Tribe.
Population -- 2010 census is 8,944 - Does not include non Indians[2] 1969: Tribal enrollment: 10,467 [3]

History[edit | edit source]

The Blackfeet Indian Reservation was established by Treaty of Oct. 17, 1855 and modified by unratified treaties of July 18, 1866, and July 13 and 15 and Sept. 1, 1868 and by Executive orders, July 5, 1873, and Aug. 19,1874. It was further modified by an act of Apr. 15, 1874 and by Executive orders, Apr.13, 1875, and .July 13, 1850; an agreement made Feb. 11, 1887, approved by Congress, May 1, 1888. An agreement made Sept. 26, 1895, approved by act of June 10, 1896; and an act of Feb. 27.1906, confirmed and additional grant of 356.11 acres, and 120 acres of unsurveyed land.

1890 theHoly Family Mission Boarding School opened

Late 18th century the French and British were trading with the Blackfee. The trail opened by Lewis and Clark in 1805 brought Americans who wished to trap their own furs, rather than to trade with the Indians. White traders were acceptable, trappers were not. Hostility ensued,

1892 Willow Creek Boarding School opened, west of Browning Montana

In 1902, the total size of the reservation included 1,760,000 Acres or 2,750 sq. mi.[4]. In 2010, the reservation includes 1,462,640 acres.

In the early 20th century the Little Shell Chippewas (the Nez Perce) of Montana were continuing to govern the original Blackfeet Reservation which was created on September 17, 1851, when the Fort Laramie Treaty was signed. On October 17, 1855, the September 17, 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty which defined the territory of the Little Shell Blackfeet Chippewas, was approved. This historic treaty which was signed on October 17, 1855, was signed near the mouth of the Judith River in then Nebraska Territory. To the north, is the present day Rocky Boy Reservation and to the east, south, and west was the old River Crow (the Little Shell Chippewa's) Judith basin Indian reservation, which was set aside on August 16, 1873.

The correct name of the original Blackfeet Reservation, is probably the Judith basin Indian reservation. The October 17, 1855 Blackfeet Treaty, was signed near the mouth of the Judith River which is within the Judith Basin Indian Reservation. The Blackfeet Reservation is also home to the Flathead Indians including the Kalispel, Pend d'Oreille, and Spokane. All 4 tribes spoke the same language which is a mixture of Algonquin Chippewa and non Chippewa.

1912 Congress directed the enrolled tribal members be alloted 320 acres of reservation land

1964 a flood, took the lives of over thrity Blackfeet and left hundreds homeless.

The Nez Perce[edit | edit source]

They are in fact Chippewa. They are the Amikwa Chippewas who lived near Lake Nipissing in Ontario. They migrated west as a result of the Seven Fires Prophecy and white encroachment. This migration began before 1661. One group went west while the other (the Chipewyan) went up to the southern shores of Hudson Bay. They forced their way up to what is now Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Some migrated to the south into northern British Columbia and northern Alberta. They are the Beaver Tribe including the Sekani. They (the Amikwa) are also known as the Nez Perce. In Anishinabe, Amikwa means Beavers. Read the October 17, 1855 Blackfeet Treaty Text. Besides the Blackfeet and Flatheads, the Nez Perce also signed the October 17, 1855 Treaty. The Dakotas including the Brule, Hunkpapa, Santee, Sisseton, and Yanktonai, had no part in the October 17, 1855 Treaty. The Assiniboine or Nakota did. They were the enemies of the Dakotas. They separated from the Yanktonai which angered them.

Exact Boundaries[edit | edit source]

It is known that the main divide or continental divide of the Rocky Mountains is the western boundary of Blackfeet Reservation. What is not known properly is the Rocky Mountain Trench is the real main divide or continental divide of the Rocky Mountains. It is located directly west of Glacier National Park, in the region where Eureka, Montana is located. If Flathead Reservation did not extend directly north to the Canada border, it means the western boundary of the original Blackfeet Reservation extends to the Rocky Mountain Trench.

The 1896 Great Falls Deportations[edit | edit source]

In June and July of 1896, the United States forcefully rounded up several thousand Chippewas to be deported out of the Little Shell Pembina Chippewas Blackfeet Reservation (aka Turtle Mountain Reservation) and deported them elsewhere. One location was obviously the 4th Blackfeet Reservation. It took two months to complete the resettlement. By the end of July 1896 it was completed. In the August 7, 1896 Great Falls Tribune, it was reported that 500 people were waiting to settle within the 4th Blackfeet Reservation. They claim mineral entry was why the 500 people were waiting to settle within the 4th Blackfeet Reservation. They also mentioned the 4th Blackfeet Reservation had an abundance of fertile agriculture land but would not immediately be opened to white settlers. Click this link FIVE+HUNDRED+WAITING to read the August 7, 1896 Great Falls Tribune article. The 500 people waiting, were Chippewas who had recently been rounded up and deported out of the original Blackfeet Reservation.

Signers of the Agreement with the Indians of the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, 26 September 1895. [Senate Document No. 118 of the 54th Congress 1st Session] The Journal of American Indian Family Research. Vol 4. No. 1 1984. FHL 970.1 J825j

Little Shell Chippewa Land Claim Lawsuit[edit | edit source]

If any Blackfeet People think they are not Chippewa, they don't know about the Little Shell Chippewa Land Claim Lawsuit about the 3rd Blackfeet Reservation which was set aside on April 15, 1874. They don't know they have already tried a land claim lawsuit to receive compensation for the loss of the 3rd Blackfeet Reservation. Little Shell Chippewa leaders confined their land claim lawsuit to the 3rd Blackfeet Reservation which was located from where the Montana-North Dakota border is, and follows the Missouri River to the Marias River, and from the Marias River to the eastern border of the 4th Blackfeet Reservation which is the current Blackfeet Reservation.

Fragmented Reservation Perseverance[edit | edit source]

One broken promise after another is how you describe the way the United States treated treaty agreements with Indian Nations. Chippewa leaders continued to honor the original treaties and the United States government did not. New Reservations were set aside for Chippewa leaders who did not have the authority to act on behalf of the Anishinabe Nation.

The Little Shell Chippewas were continuing to govern the original Blackfeet Reservation in the early 20th century. In 1921, a meeting was held at Joseph Paul's family ranch near Lewistown, Montana. This meeting was probably about filing a land claim lawsuit about the original Blackfeet Reservation. As mentioned, the Little Shell Chippewas were continuing to govern the original Blackfeet Reservation.

There were at least 9 small districts across the original Blackfeet Reservation. They were: Wolf Point (major district 565); Hays (major district 565); Harlem (major district 565); Box Elder (major district (565); Dupuyer (major district 574); Augusta (major district 399); Great Falls (major districts 399 and 574); Lewistown (major district 399); and Helena (major district 398).

This would stay unchanged up to at least 1939. A meeting was held at Joseph Paul's home in Great Falls, Montana on June 10, 1939. Exactly what transpired is not known but soon after friction became a problem. Even in 1939, the Little Shell Chippewa's had 9 representatives for the 9 small districts mentioned above. Raymond Gray formed the Montana Landless Indians Organization in 1939. That further went to disrupt the government of the Little Shell Chippewa's Blackfeet Reservation.

After World War II, the leaders of the Little Shell Chippewa's Blackfeet Reservation government, became despondent, dismantled the government and went their own ways. Joseph Dussome was in favor of filing a land claims lawsuit about the 3rd Blackfeet Reservation. In 1950, Dussome gave up and hired a lawyer. A year later (1951), Dussome filed the land claims lawsuit. He was joined by Elizabeth Swan, leaders from Rocky Boy Reservation, and other Little Shell Chippewa leaders. They confined their land claim to the northern part of the original Blackfeet Reservation with the number 565. For some reason, they excluded the areas of the original Blackfeet Reservation with the numbers 398, 399, and 574. That may have been because the other district representatives did not agree to file the land claim lawsuit. Click this link, to visit the Library of Congress website, to read the September 17, 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty which defined the territory of the Little Shell Blackfeet Chippewa's. On the bottom of the page are several links. Click on Montana 1. The original Blackfeet Reservation has the numbers 398, 399, 574, and 565. Or they focused on the April 15, 1874 treaty which set aside the 3rd Blackfeet Reservation. It has the number 565.

To better understand the land area of the land claims lawsuit filed by Dussome, Swan, and the other Little Shell Chippewa leaders, click this link, to read the August 16, 1873 Treaty which established the Little Shell Blackfeet Chippewa's Judith Basin Reservation. On the bottom of the page is a link. Click on Montana 2. The land claim filed by Dussome, Swan, and the other Little Shell Chippewa leaders, covers the area on the land cession map with the pink color and the number 692.

All Reservations were originally a part of the Little Shell Blackfeet Chippewa's original Blackfeet Reservation. The land area with the number 692, is within area number 565, while the Judith Basin Indian Reservation is within area number 399.

Those Reservations, which include the Blackfeet Reservation, Fort Belknap Reservation, Fort Peck Reservation (all have a yellow color), and the Judith Basin Indian Reservation, were illegally established. Chiefs Little Shell III and Red Thunder refused to cede the vast Chippewa Reservation in 1892.Joseph Paul and other Little Shell Chippewa leaders were following chiefs Little Shell III and Red Thunders in their demands that the vast Chippewa Reservation be kept in governance. Dussome, Swan, and other Little Shell Chippewa leaders, gave up.

On April 5, 1974, the United States again refused to honor treaty agreements. They rejected the land claim lawsuit filed by Joseph Dussome, Elizabeth Swan, leaders from Rocky Boy Reservation, and other Little Shell Chippewa leaders. Click here, to read the judgement of the land claim lawsuit.

Chief Rocky Boy[edit | edit source]

Chief Rocky Boy was born and raised in southwest Montana somewhere between Anaconda and Butte. He became a principle leader of the Little Shell Blackfeet Chippewa's of southwest and western Montana, and southeast Idaho, in the 1880s or 1890s. In southwestern Montana, the Little Shell Blackfeet Chippewa's are known as the Inuk'sik. Chief Rocky Boy was their leader. During the years between 1885 and 1910, southwest Montana had a large Chippewa population and a probable Reservation just south of Anaconda and Butte. They followed treaty and had villages from place to place. However, the United States did not follow the treaty which set aside the original Blackfeet Reservation on September 17, 1851 and approved on October 17, 1855.

In March of 1902, chief Rocky Boy contacted an attorney and sent a letter to the President requesting for Reservation. He actually knew the United States was going to deport the Chippewas living in southwest Montana and eradicate their Reservation if they had one in southwest Montana. Rocky Boy was elected grand chief of the Montana Chippewas in 1902 also. The year before (1901), chief Little Shell III passed away. However, chief Papawee opposed chief Rocky Boy and refused to dishonor treaty.

Chief Rocky Boy was instructed by the Americans to send Chippewa land surveyors to find suitable land for a Reservation. Rocky Boy told the Americans he favored a Reservation in the Anaconda and Butte region, and that both the Blackfeet and Flathead Reservations were attractive. Flathead Reservation was the selected location in Montana and Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho.

A bill was sent to the congress of the United States by Senator Gibson and was passed on January 8, 1904, which proposed a new Chippewa Reservation within the Flathead Reservation. Exactly where this Chippewa Reservation is located is unknown. By 1908, the United States again broke treaty.

On May 22, 1909, Presdent Tafts Proclamation ruined Rocky Boy's promised Reservations. Chief Rocky Boy is far more important to the Blackfeet and Flathead Reservations than they realize. Chief Rocky Boy may have accepted the infamous 10 cent an acre Treaty or the McCumber Agreement, which was passed by the United States in 1904.

Chief Rocky Boys Blackfeet Reservation[edit | edit source]

In either late 1907 or early 1908, a farmer at Flathead Reservation warned the Reservations superintendent about the Chippewa's led by chief Rocky Boy. In 1908, the first round of allotments at Flathead Reservation were conducted. It caused serious trouble. Indian Agent Frank Churchill was sent to Montana to find chief Rocky Boy and negotiate with him about the land acts.

Frank Churchill found chief Rocky Boy at a small Chippewa village near Garrison, Montana. Possibly the Garrison, Montana a few miles northwest of Deer Lodge. Another Garrison, Montana was located very near Ulm, Montana, which is 8 miles from Great Falls. It was probably that Garrison, Montana. St. Peters Mission was located very near Ulm.

Both negotiated about the land acts. An agreement was reached which concerned Blackfeet Reservation, Flathead Reservation, Fort Assiniboine Indian Reservation (aka Rocky Boys Reservation), Fort Belknap Reservation, and Fort Peck Reservation. Both knew Fort Peck Reservation was the most dangerous location. Unlike the other Reservations, Fort Peck Reservation was ideal farm land. They knew the Fort Peck Chippewas would respond violently to the land acts.

Churchill requested from the government of the United States that all of Valley County, Montana (it was really all of Fort Peck Reservation) be withdrawn from white settlement and that a new 2,592 sq. mi. Chippewa Reservation be created for the Fort Peck Reservation Chippewas. His requests were granted.

Chief Rocky Boy was responsible for the creation of the new 2,592 sq. mi. Chippewa Reservation. William R. Logan (the Fort Belknap Reservation superintendent) was put in charge of finding land to be the new Chippewa Reservation. He selected the land south and west of Fort Belknap Reservation to be added on to Fort Assiniboine Indian Reservation and Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. Fort Peck Reservation Chippewas moved to their new Reservation in late 1909 and 1910.

In late 1908 (around the time of the Swan Valley Massacre), chief Rocky Boy began to gather the Chippewas of western and southwestern Montana at Birdseye, which is very near Fort Harrison, Montana or Helena. Throughout 1909, more Chippewas moved to near Fort Harrison to be relocated to the 4th Blackfeet Reservation. Many were very angry and chief Rocky Boy had to use threats he would use American soldiers to keep them in the Helena region, to prevent the terrified Chippewas from leaving.

On November 13, 1909, Chippewas boarded trains at Helena and were sent to the 4th Blackfeet Reservation. They arrived on November 14. Shortly afterwards, more Chippewas led by chief Little Bear, moved to the 4th Blackfeet Reservation. Several hundred had moved to the 4th Blackfeet Reservation by 1910.

The land allotments at the 4th Blackfeet Reservation included opening up the leased land in the eastern part of the Blackfeet Reservation to white settlement. This led to chief Rocky Boys brother, chief Pennato, leading an exodus off the Reservation. Many were captured and sent to the Fort Harrison region. They were probably relocated to the Navajo Reservation later on. Most Chippewas stayed at the 4th Blackfeet Reservation. White historians claim most left but that does not appear to be true. Nearly all of the 4th Blackfeet Reservation (the western half) remained Indian and that kept the Chippewas content and willing to live there.

Communities[edit | edit source]

  • Arrowtop: About 1.7 miles north of North Browning, is the fast growing community of Arrowtop. I have no idea if this community even has a name. It is named after a street which runs through the area. Its population is included with the population of Brownings zip code area. However, it is a distinct community. Several hundred people live there.
  • Babb: 2010 population is 174. Indians make up 84.5% of the population of Babb. Babb covers 9.55 sq. mi. It is located just north of Lower Saint Mary Lake, in a narrow mountain valley.
  • Blackfoot: It is located 6.5 miles east of Browning. It's population is included with the population of Brownings zip code area. However, Blackfoot is a distinct community. Kipp Lake is 1.3 miles to the southeast.
  • Browning:2010 population is 5,209. Browning is made up of three communities. Browning(2010 population is 1,016) , which is located between South Browning and North Browning. South Browning(2010 population is 1,785), which is adjacent to Browning on the south. North Browning(2010 population is 2,408), which is adjacent to Browning on the north. All three communities are classified as a distinct community but all three are connected. All are cdp's (census designated places). The three communities which make up Browning, cover 6.47 sq. mi.
  • East Glacier Park Village:2010 population is 363. Indians make up 55% of the population of East Glacier Park Village. When including mixed bloods it's 60%. The small community is a gateway to Glacier National Park. It covers 4.36 sq. mi.
  • Heart Butte:2010 population is 582. Indians make up 97.5% of the population of Heart Butte. Heart Butte covers 4.57 sq. mi. It's located in the southwestern part of the Reservation.
  • Hill 57:2010 population is unknown. It is located adjacent to Great Falls, Montana but not within the city limits of Great Falls. Though Hill 57 is not within the 4th Blackfeet Reservation, it is within the original Blackfeet Reservation which was created on September 17, 1851 and approved on October 17, 1855. And it continues to be an Indian settlement. Last census of Hill 57 is from 1956. Hill 57 had a population of over 400 in 1956. Today, the Hill 57 Little Shell Chippewa population is dramatically lower. Probably fewer than 20 people live there. The Little Shell Blackfeet Chippewa's had 2 minor districts here. The minor districts (within the major districts of 399 and 574) representative was Joseph Paul.
  • Kiowa:2010 population is unknown. Kiowa is located in the western part of the Reservation. It is not far from Glacier National Park.
  • Little Browning: 2010 population is 206. Indians make up 94.7% of the population of Little Browning. It covers 1.01 sq. mi. Cut Bank, Glacier County, Montana Genealogy is located about 1 mile to the east of Little Browning.
  • St. Mary:St. Mary is located about 6 miles south of Babb, in the same narrow mountain valley as Babb. It's a gateway to Glacier National Park. Part of St. Mary is off the Reservation.
  • Starr School:2010 population is 252. Indians make up 97.2% of the population of Starr School. It covers 4.23 sq. mi.
  • Wippert:It is located over 1 mile south of South Browning. Most of the housing units are mobile homes. It's population is included with Brownings zip code area. Several hundred people live in this fast growing community.

Population Growth History[edit | edit source]

In 1901, the population of Blackfeet Reservation was 2,022. Between 1900 and 1910, the United States government built a fence around the Blackfeet Reservation to keep the prophecy weary Chippewas from leaving the Reservation. In late 1909, the United States forced over 200 Chippewa's (that includes the Cree who are the northern Chippewa's) to relocate to the Blackfeet Reservation.

In 1930, or about 4 years before the Indian Reorganization Act was voted on and accepted at the Blackfeet Reservation, the Indian population of the Blackfeet Reservation was 3,962. Between 1901 and 1930, the Indian population increased by 100% at the Blackfeet Reservation. The population increase can be attributed to the relocation of 100s of Chippewas to the Blackfeet Reservation commencing in 1909.

Between 1930 and 2010, the Indian population of the Blackfeet Reservation, experienced a much slower population increase. That is probably because of the Indian Reorganization Act. One of the Indian Reorganization Act's goals was to relocate Indians from Reservations, to be assimilated into white communities.

Records[edit | edit source]

Many of the records of individual Indians living on the Blackfeet Reservation were kept by the Blackfeet Agency of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Others are kept by the Tribal Office.

Land Records: Allotted Land 775,412.52 acres IRA population estimates for Indian Reservation Agencies during the 1930s 1902 populations for Indian Reservation Agencies

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Montana Indian Reservations," Handbook of Indians North of Mexico, by Frederick Webb Hodge Available online.
  2. Census 2000 Tribal Entity Counts for American Indian Reservations and Off-Reservation Trust Lands. U.S. Census Bureau, Geography Division. Available online. {Note: This census figure only accounts for tribal members living on the reservation or trust lands. Other enrolled tribal members may live off-reservation.)
  3. Indian Reservations A State and Federal Handbook. Compiled by The Confederation of American Indians, New York, N.Y. McFarland and Co. Inc., Jefferson, North Carolina, c. 1986. FHL book 970.1 In2
  4. "Montana Indian Reservations," Handbook of Indians North of Mexico, by Frederick Webb Hodge Available online.

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Confederation of American Indians. Indian Reservations: A State and Federal Handbook. Jefferson, North Caroline: McFarland & Co., c1986. WorldCat 14098308; FHL book 970.1 In2.
  • Hodge, Frederick Webb. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin #30, 1906. This publication lists the 22 states which had reservations in 1908. Available online.
  • Kappler, Charles J. Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1902. 7 volumes. WorldCat 74490963; FHL book 970.1 K142iAvailable online.
  • Klein, Barry T., ed. Reference Encyclopedia of the American Indian. Nyack, New York: Todd Publications, 2009. 10th ed. WorldCat 317923332; FHL book 970.1 R259e.
  • Prucha, Francis Paul. Atlas of American Indian Affairs. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1991 WorldCat 257331735; FHL book 970.1 P95aa
  • Prucha, Francis Paul, ed. Documents of United States Indian Policy. 3rd Edition. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 2000. WorldCat 50416280; FHL book 970.1 P95d.
  • Prucha, Francis Paul. Guide to the Military Posts of the United States, 1789-1895. Madison, Wisconsin: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, c1964. WorldCat 522839; FHL book 973 M2pf.
  • Schmeckebier, Laurance F. The Office of Indian Affairs: Its History, Activities, and Organization. Service Monographs of the United States Government; no. 48. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1927. Reprint. New York: AMS Press, 1972.  WorldCat 257893; FHL book 973 B4b v. 48.
  • Sturtevant, William C. Handbook of North American Indians. 20 vols., some not yet published. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1978– .
Volume 1 -- Not yet published
Volume 2 -- Indians in Contemporary Society (pub. 2008) -- WorldCat 234303751
Volume 3 -- Environment, Origins, and Population (pub. 2006) -- WorldCat 255572371
Volume 4 -- History of Indian-White Relations (pub. 1988) -- WorldCat 19331914; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.4.
Volume 5 -- Arctic (pub. 1984) -- WorldCat 299653808; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.5.
Volume 6 -- Subarctic (pub. 1981) -- WorldCat 247493742; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.6.
Volume 7 -- Northwest Coast (pub. 1990) -- WorldCat 247493311
Volume 8 -- California (pub. 1978) -- WorldCat 13240086; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.8.
Volume 9 -- Southwest (pub. 1979) -- WorldCat 26140053; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.9.
Volume 10 -- Southwest (pub. 1983) -- WorldCat 301504096; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.10.
Volume 11 -- Great Basin (pub. 1986) -- WorldCat 256516416; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.11.
Volume 12 -- Plateau (pub. 1998) -- WorldCat 39401371; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.12.
Volume 13 -- Plains, 2 vols. (pub. 2001) -- WorldCat 48209643
Volume 14 -- Southeast (pub. 2004) -- WorldCat 254277176
Volume 15 -- Northwest (pub. 1978) -- WorldCat 356517503; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.15.
Volume 16 -- Not yet published
Volume 17 -- Languages (pub. 1996) -- WorldCat 43957746
Volume 18 -- Not yet published
Volume 19 -- Not yet published
Volume 20 -- Not yet published