Thursday, August 27, 2015

1870 - 1884

1870: Baker Massacre. A pre-emptive strike is urged against Mountain Chief by Lt. Col. Alfred Sully, now Superintendent of Indian Affairs and charged with stopping the whiskey trade. At the same time General Sheridan had “initiated a campaign” against the Blackft through orders to General Philip de Trobriand, the commander at Fort Shaw. He sent Colonel E.M Baker to intercept Mountain Chief and keep him from escaping into Canada. Instead Baker mistakenly struck the Heavyrunner band. Heavyrunner was a “peace” chief. 37 lodges. 173 Blackft killed. 140 captured. Lt. William Pease, Indian Agent for the Gros Ventre, reported only 15 of the dead were men of fighting age. The rest were old men and women except 50 were children under 12. Sully criticized Baker and Baker was removed from his command in September of 1870.

Still in 1870: Blackft reservation assigned to the Methodists. Whiskey trade flourishing. Alfred Healy, Joe Kipp, etc. fronted for Martin Maginnis, Isaac G. Baker, Charles Conrad, William Conrad, T.C. Power, John Power, C. A. Broadwater, Samuel T. Hauser. R.S. Ford (inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame) illegally drove several thousand head of cattle into the Sun River area. He was not alone. Lemon’s prospectors cross Marias Pass.

1871: More prospectors in Marias Pass. Congress ends treaty-making with Indians as sovereign nations. Hereforward, all covenants will be called “agreements.”

1872: Cattle drives begin to arrive in “Blackfeet territory.” Joshua or Jess Armitage, agent, dismissed for drunkenness. William Ensign, next agent, dismissed for embezzlement.

1873: Men from Fort Benton massacre Assiniboines in Cypress Hills. Duncan McDonald and some Kalipells cross Marias Pass on snowshoes that winter. Executive order moves the boundary of Blackft lands to the Sun River. Dan Floweree’s ranch was thus made legal. There remained ranchers farther north on what was still legally reservation.

1874: Royal Canadian Mounties arrive. Set up supply line to McLeod via Fort Benton. They mean to intercept the booze being supplied by Montana people who move from Fort Benton through the Blackfeet Reservation to Canada. Second boundary survey of the reservation. St. Peter Mission established. Executive order moves reservation boundary to Birch Creek, which opens lands between Sun and Marias Rivers to homesteading. Agency goes to the northern side of Birch Creek, alongside Badger Creek at Running Crane’s place.

1875: Executive order of April 13.   Blackft lose more land. William Ensign replaces John Wood as agent because Wood sides with the Blackft for their land and is criticized by state newspapers.

1870-83: The Methodists had been expected to put money into the Blackft but they make no financial contribution at all. Their agents are not an improvement.

1876: Wm. Veach and prospectors in Glacier. John Young, agent, gives jobs to his sons and daughters and is accused of putting tribal funds in his personal account. Still buffalo to hunt. Old people are the main occupants of the agency. Their rations are supplementary. When Agent John Young arrives, he is appalled by conditions. He is the first to give candy to Indian children at Christmas services after reading the story of the First Christmas. He has a special concern for education. His daughters are put on the payroll as teachers.

1877: The Nez Perce exodus. U.S. scraps the Sioux Treaty of 1868 but this isn’t ratified by the tribe. Broadwater’s commodity goods are rejected as not good enough.

1879: Duncan McDonald, railroad man, crosses Marias Pass with a party. Fort Assiniboine is established. Lower court rules in the case of Standing Bear vs. Crook that an individual Indian has the same constitutional rights as a non-Indian. On Sept. 8 the first formal education begins at St. Peter’s mission on Sun River.

1880: Decision of Ex Parte Crow Dog establishes federal jurisdiction on the Indian reservations in cases of the seven major crimes: e.g. murder, rape, burglary, et al. Indian police are formed by the BIA. Old Agency on Badger Creek lasts from 1880-95. There is no more hunting north of the border. Serious mange epidemic kills many Blackft horses.

1881: Serious decline in the number of buffalo. Young asks for more food. Kipp is operating from Robaire. T.C. Power fails to deliver flour in full.

1882: Common knowledge that the buffalo are about gone. Bloods and N. Blackfoot from Canada are coming south in search of buffalo. Whitecalf is baptised by Father Prando. 1,600 Blackft are near the agency. The nomadic days are ending. Young is trying to get trespassing cattle off the rez, trying to buy more beef, and is accused of mismanagement by the government inspector. Young asks that no more money be put into goods -- just food. The people are starving. Four Blackfeet arrested for killing white man’s cattle.

1883: In February Young says his people are starving and the local cattlemen will not sell him beef. In April he tells the Indians to go ahead and eat any cattle on the rez. He is indicted by a grand jury for this. He is 72 years old, but the cattlemen accuse him of “keeping a Harem of young Indian girls.” Chair of the jury is William Conrad. His Circle outfit is running over 12,000 head of cattle on the rez without paying any fees. T.C. Power defends Young. He has the transportation contract for the annuity goods, which got destroyed this year in a steamboat fire. All wild game is gone. Inspectors and military confirm Blackft deaths by starvation.

1884: No more buffalo. Severe winter. 600 died. Blackfeet disarmed and living on meager and unfit rations. Many dead laid in the snow. Caskets charged to annuities. Some say the unsuccessful hunts of this November mark the end of Blackfeet culture.

Now we’re past Afghanistan and talking about the equivalent of famine in Somalia, except that these are American citizens on American soil in the presence of American beef. Now we’re talking hard-core genocide. Doubters should read John C. Ewers’ “The Blackfeet: Raiders on the Northwestern Plains,” pages 290 to 296. Keep in mind that Ewers is a conservative man who often tactfully understates the case. The only reason he can offer for the Blackft not attacking the nearby whites is that the “shock and awe” campaign of the Massacre on the Marias by Baker was all too effective.

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