Helping Our People Overcome Economic & Social Disadvantage
A student resource suitable for K-12 and university students. Content may be freely used for non-commercial purposes. All materials written by Gregg Paisley, except as noted therein.
Footnote / Endnote / Citations:
Paisley, Gregg E. The Blackfeet: The Blackfeet Today (or whichever website page is cited) www.americanindianpartnership.org (Nov. 2009).
308 N. Piegan, Browning, MT
(This Timeline created by Blackfoot Language Digitization Project http://thebldp.org)
80,000,000 - 60,000,000 BC - Dinosaurs die off in Montana.
2,000,000 - 20,000 BC - Glacial ice sheets cover large portions of Montana.
8,500 - 6,500 BC - Native Americans of pre-history develop communal hunting techniques.
6,500 BC - Native Americans of pre-history populate all areas of Montana.
500 BC The “Dog Days.” The Blackfeet follow the “Old North Trail” over the “Backbone of the World,” using dogs and dog
1650 Blackfeet discovered in central Canada by early European explorers.
1690 Henry Kelsey of the Hudson’s Bay Company makes brief contact with the Blackfeet in Alberta.
1730 Blackfeet attacked by Shoshone on horseback. First time Blackfeet have seen horses which they call "Elk Dogs."
1730 - 1750 Blackfeet probably acquired their first horses in peaceful trade with their neighbors, the Flathead, Kootenai, and Nez Perce.
1748 First French trappers arrive in Blackfeet country.
1750 Alexander Henry of the Northwest Fur Company makes contact with the Piegans.
1754 Anthony Hendry of the Hudson’s Bay Company becomes first white man to meet with the Blackfoot, stayed in a Blood camp of 322 lodges near present day Red Deer, Albert, Canada. Tried to convince Blackfoot to trade but the Bloods were not interested. They had horses and the buffalo were plentiful.
1772 Matthew Cocking of the Hudson’s Bay Company spent the winter with the Blackfoot. He found them friendly and accommodating but they still refused to trade.
1780 Hudson Bay Company builds Buckingham House on the Saskatchewan River in Canada, reaching Blackfeetcountry. Blackfeet obtain guns through trade.
1780 - 1805 Blackfeet almost exterminate the Shoshone in battles over hunting territory.
1781 Piegans attacked dying Northern Shoshone camp, contracted smallpox, 50% deaths.
1784 Declared relentless war on Northern Shoshone, Flathead, and Kootenai.
1786 The U.S. Department of War establishes ordinance charged with the responsibility for Indian affairs.
1787 Blackfeet warriors journey south to Santa Fe. Encounter Spanish miners and steal their horses.
1787 Fur trader David Thompson wintered and traded with the Piegan, Northwest Fur Company began trading with the Siksika and Blood.
1802 United State buys power from France to take Native American lands under the “Doctrine of Discovery of 1493.”
1803 United States acquires most of Montana through the Louisiana Purchase.
1803 Tribes of the Louisiana Purchase Territory officially came under U.S jurisdiction.
1806 Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis and Clark) encounters Blackfeet (Piegan) at the junction of Two Medicine River and Badger Creek. Lewis kills one Piegan who was trying to steal a gun.
1808 Mountain men & fur traders begin to enter the Blackfeet sphere of interest.
1809 Trader Alexander Henry compiles a census of the Blackfeet, finding a total of 5,200 people among the Piegan,
1810 Blackfoot crop the tail of the horses they purchased from the Arikara so to distinguish them from their Indian ponies.
1810 Missouri Fur Company opens a trading post, but is driven out immediately by the Blackfeet.
1811 Crying Bear a Blackfoot warrior was killed by Crees in the northern part of their hunting grounds.
1812 Traders at Edmonton House report that the Bloods and Blackfeet are determined to steal every horse belonging to white men in revenge for the death of their relations, fifty of who had been killed by the Flathead over the past year. The Blackfoot say the white men are supplying the Flathead with guns, which are the cause of their great losses.
1813 Many Bloods form a war party to raid the Crow Indians on the Big Horn River.
1814 Top Knot was killed by Crow Indians on the Little Big Horn River.
1815 A war party of Crees and Assiniboine attached a camp of twenty Blood and Sarsi lodges on the banks of the Belly River, not far from the site of the first Blood Agency, killing four men and a woman, including, Mad Child, a Blood.
1818 The Sun Dance was usually held in early summer, when the Saskatoon berries were ripe. On this occasion, however, a winter camp of Bloods on Sheep River was in danger of being attacked by war parties of Crees. A Holy woman vowed that if they were spared from harm she would sponsor a Sun Dance immediately. When no attack came, the Sun Dance was held as promised.
1819 Measles Epidemic kills one-third of the Blackfoot and Gros Ventre Population.
1820 Four Horns, a Northern Piegan killed by a Pend d’Oreille.
1822 Chesterfield House Establish by the Hudson’s Bay Co. on the Red Deer and Belly Rivers.
1824 The Bureau of Indian Affairs established within the United States War Department.
1824 Beginning of mountain man fur trade era and constant state of war with trappers.
1825 The Hudson’s Bay Co. traveling with a large party of Flatheads signs treaty with Bloods, Gros Ventre, and Piegans.
1828 “Treaty No. 7” signed by Chief Red Crow establishing Blackfoot, Blood,and No. Piegan reservations in Canada.
1831 James Kipp & seventy-five men establish Ft. Piegan at the confluence of the Missouri and Marias Rivers.
1831 First peaceful trade between the Americans and Blackfeet by Kenneth McKenzie.
1831 Blackfeet horse raiders recorded at Arkansas River in southern Colorado.
1831 Alfred Jacob Miller attributed Blackfeet to killing 30-40 trapper annually, smallpox epidemic spread to Sioux.
1832 David Mitchell and sixty men establish Fort McKenzie on a narrow ridge separating the Missouri and Teton Rivers.
1832 Missouri Fur Company opens again at Fort Piegan on the Missouri River at the mouth of the Marias River.
1833 A meteoric shower is seen and recorded in the winter counts of the Bloods, camped on the Highwood River.
1833 Prince Maximilian, a German scientist-explorer, and Karl Bodner, a Swiss artist, spend a month with the Blackfeet at Fort McKenzie. Maximilian becomes the first white observer to describe the Blackfeet men's societies; Bodner paints portraits of Blackfeet leaders.
1834 Bureau of Indian Affairs created as part of War Department.
1834 Blood winter count records a successful horse stealing party against a Crow camp on the Yellowstone River.
1835 Two Piegans being chased by an enemy raiding party jump into the Marias River and are killed.
1836 Many children die of diphtheria, “strangulation of the throat.”
1837 Smallpox epidemic, brought to the Upper Missouri on the steamboat St. Peters, of the American Fur Company, kills nearly 6,000 Blackfeet, two thirds of the total population.
1838 The impact of the Smallpox epidemic is so great and prolonged that it is recorded in the winter count for two years.
1840 End of mountain man fur trade era in Blackfeet territory.
1841 St. Mary’s Mission founded, then abandoned in 1850.
1841 First Blackfeet Indian baptized on Christmas day.
1842 A large number of Bloods gathered at Women’s Buffalo Jump near the Porcupine Hills and killed many buffalo.
1843 Northern Blackfoot coming to trade at Fort McKenzie were fired upon with a cannon by A.N. Harvey, who was known in Blackfoot as Running Wolf, an action supposedly taken in retaliation for the theft of cattle and the killing of a Negro employee the previous year. Six Indians were killed and several wounded, as recorded in the winter counts of both the Northern Blackfeet and Southern Piegan.
1845 Alexander Culbertson negotiated peace treaties. 1846 Small Robes Band of Piegans massacred by Crow Indians. 1846 A war party of Crows crept into a Blood camp and took the best horses picketed in front of their owner’s lodge. 1846 Small Robes band of Piegans destroyed by Crow. 1846 Father DeSmet conducts the first Catholic Mass among the Blackfeet, mainly children are baptized. 1847 Not A Favorite Child, A Blood, was killed by Assiniboines on the Milk River. 1848 Bad Head leaves his winter camping grounds and takes a large band of Bloods to stay near Fort Benton.
1849 War party of 800 Blackfoot attack Assiniboine horse raiders and kill 52, while the Blackfoot lost 25.
1849 The BIA was transferred from the Department of War to the Department of the Interior.
1850 Eagle Calf, also known as Boy, was killed by Crees near the Sweetgrass Hills. 1851 Blackfeet legal dealings with the U.S. Government begin with a treaty (in which the Blackfeet did not participate) allotting them a large swath of the northern plains.
1851 Peace of the Plains Treaty signed at Fort Laramie.
1852 Father Of Many Children wintered in the northern part of the hunting grounds while the rest of the Bloods and Piegans went to Fort Benton.
1854 The Blackfoot were not dog eaters, but when starvation reduced them to this necessity, the incident was recorded in the winter count.
1855 "Lame Bull's Treaty is signed on the Judith River. This marked the first official treaty between the Blackfeet and the U.S. Government, and defines the boundaries of "The Blackfeet Nation."
1856 Much of the Blackfoot hunting grounds were covered with ice during the winter, making it difficult to hunt, trade, and care for their horses.
1857 Prairie White Man is killed by Pend d’Oreille Indians at a point called Shade, near Shelby, Montana.
1858 Blackfoot note in winter count that there was a big sweat lodge built.
1859 Two brothers, Hind Bull and Fish Child, chiefs of the Many Fat Horses Band, were drinking near Rocky Mountain House. Hind Bull took his daughter away from her husband and Fish Child objected. In the argument that followed, Hind Bull shot Fish Child, but before dying, Fish Child stabbed his brother to death.
1860 Pend d’Oreilles, under their chief, Alexander, were hunting buffalo along the Milk River when they were attacked by a large war party of Assiniboines and Crees. The Pend d’Oreilles had 20 killed, including the chief’s son, 25 wounded, and 290 horses taken. Only the timely arrival of some Piegans prevented the complete extermination of the camp.
1860 White settlers began to enter Blackfeet country. 1860 Jesuit Mission created in old Fort Campbell on the Marias River.
1860 White settlers begin to enter Blackfeet country.
1862 Tartowa, Prepared Moccasins, a Piegan, went insane and rode through the camp firing his gun. He was finally killed by his two brothers.
1863 The Gros Ventre (Atsíína) had been allies of the Blackfoot for generations, but in 1861 a dispute with the Piegans over stolen horses turned them into bitter enemies. A winter count refers to four lodges of Gros Ventres, under a chief named The Stone, who were killed by Piegans on the Belly River. They had been visiting Blood chief Ermine Horse at the time of the attack.
1863 Annuity payments from the US Government to the Blackfeet do not arrive. Blackfeet send letter of protest to Washington.
1864 An epidemic of scarlet fever decimates the Blackfoot tribes. By the spring of 1865 over 1,100 Blackfoot had died.
1865 Fighting breaks out between the Blackfeet and white settlers.
1865 After the scarlet fever epidemic of 1864, the Blackfoot harassed the British traders at Rocky Mountain House,
1865 - 1872 Father Albert Lacombe writes Blackfoot Dictionary.
1866 Father Lacombe with Chiefs Crowfoot and Three Bulls.
1866 Piegans defeat Crow and Gros Ventres in large scale battle.
1866 A war party of Bloods and North Blackfoot discover a small Cree camp at the edge of the Red Ocher Hills. They killed 2 women who had been cutting wood, and were following a snow-filled coulee to the top of the hill when they were discovered. The lodges they had attacked were part of a larger camp and soon the Crees surrounded the coulee and slaughtered scores of Bloods and North Blackfoot in the snow.
1867 The Blackfoot were beginning to obtain repeating rifles from the traders, and were able to kill larger numbers of buffalo. As a result, more dried meat, robes, and leather were taken for trade.
1868 Some members of the Bear People Band of the Piegan rushed through camp in a drunken state and killed several people.
1868 New Agreements with the U.S. Government reduce the size of the Blackfeet land allotment.
1869 Smallpox struck the Blackfoot, again originating with a Missouri River steamboat. By 1870, the death toll reached 1,080 Piegans, 630 Bloods, and 678 North Blackfoot.
1869 Malcolm Clark killed by Piegan warriors in retaliation for the killing of Mountain Chief's brother.
1870 Between 600 and 800 Assiniboines and Crees attacked Blood camps not far from Fort Whoop-Up, at the confluences of the Oldman and St. Mary Rivers. The attackers did not know that a large number of South Piegans with repeating rifles were camped a short distance away. The combined Blood and Piegan forces succeeded in routing the Assiniboines and Crees, inflicting casualties estimated between 200 and 300 warriors. The name for Fort Whoop-Up, “many Died,” describes the river bottom where the Bloods had suffered heavy losses during the 1837 epidemic.
1870 Baker Massacre on the Marias River. U.S. Soldiers mistakenly attack the camp of Heavy Runner, a friendly chief, while looking for the murderers of Clark. Over 200 killed, 140 women and children captured. Blackfeet never face the U.S. Army in battle again.
1871 A trading post was built on the Highwood River. This was the era of the “free trader” who carried whiskey and repeating rifles as stock in trade. In later years these posts were dubbed, “whiskey forts.”
1872 First school for Blackfeet children opened at Four Person Agency at Teton River Agency.
1873 Calf Shirt was a leader of the Lone Fighters Band of Bloods. Joe Kipp, a trader, killed him in self-defense at Fort Kipp, on the Belly River. The Bloods tried to revive Calf Shirt, but stopped when the thought they were achieving success, because they were afraid that he would come back as a bear.
1873 Establishment of the Blackfeet Reservation by President Grant.
1874 Choteau Agency Established (Blackfeet, Southern Piegan)
1874 The Northwest Mounted Police, organized in eastern Canada, arrived at the Oldman River and built Fort Macleod (called in Blackfoot, Akapioyis, meaning, Many Houses)
1874 By act of Congress, the Blackfeet reservation boundary moved northward to Birch Creek - Marias River line. The Blackfeet are neither consulted nor renumerated.
1875 The Northwest Mounted Police close illicit “whiskey forts,” and within a year all liquor trading had virtually stopped.
1875 Agent John Wood urges the Blackfeet to organize. Little Plume elected as head chief, Generous Women and White Calf as subordinate chiefs. New tribal code written.
1876 The Northwest Mounted Police report that buffalo were plentiful in the Blackfoot hunting grounds during the winter, but that by spring the herds were confined mostly to the Cypress Hills area.
1876 Custer and his troops annihilated at Little Big Horn. No Blackfeet were involved.
1876 Running Crane’s Agency established on Upper Badger Creek.
1877 James Willard Schultz visits Blackfeet reservation and marries a Blackfeet woman.
1877 Chief Joseph, Nez Perce, Surrenders just east of the Blackfeet reservation near the Bear’s Paw Mountains, with statement “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”
1878 Prairie fires destroy grasslands west of Canada's Cypress Hills, driving the great buffalo herds south into Montana,
1879 First formal education for Blackfeet at St. Peter’s Mission on the Sun River.
1879 Old Agency established on Lower Badger Creek.
1879 Almost all buffalo on the Blood’s hunting grounds had been killed or driven south. In desperation, the Bloods followed the herds, and during the winter they hunted in the Judith Basin region of Montana.
1880 Itarkuneupatotsop refers to the movement of the Bloods back to Canada after the last buffalo herds were killed. The starving Indians drifted back at the end of winter, and by spring the entire tribe was camped along the Belly River.
1881 The first Ration Roll created at the Blackfeet Agency on Lower Badger Creek (Old Agency).
1882 Blackfeet winter buffalo hunt in Montana is successful. No hint that the buffalo would disappear.
1882 Red Crow (photo above), head chief of the Bloods had 80 horses stolen by a war party of Crees. Although the Bloods pursued them towards Cypress Hills, the raiders were not caught.
1883 Extermination of large herds of buffalo is nearly complete.
1883 The Canadian Pacific Railway line reached the eastern edge of Blackfoot territory.
1884 Last Piegan buffalo hunt takes place near the Sweet Grass Hills.
1883 - 1884 Starvation Winter. Buffalo herds suddenly disappear. 600 Blackfeet starve during the winter and spring. The Blackfeet become sedentary people, dependent on government rations.
1885 U.S. Government takes western portion of Blackfeet reservation for mineral exploration.
1885 Blackfeet Agency was moved to Willow Creek.
1887 The U.S. Government takes control of Native American property rights.
1889 The Ghost Dance raged through Indian tribes, including the Blackfeet. Wovoka, also known as Jack Wilson, was a Piute born in what is now Esmeralda County, Nevada, in the late 1850s. In 1889, Wovoka saw visions that foretold the coming of a messiah who would help the Indians regain their lost land and bring their dead ancestors back to life. Wovoka directed his many followers to sing and dance in preparation for the event. The ritual, which included elements from the Christian religion, was called the Ghost Dance. Though Wovoka encouraged peace and cooperation, some saw the Ghost Dance movement as a call to overthrow the white man. Increasing fear and mistrust among both whites and Native Americans led to the Sioux outbreak of 1890, when large groups of Indians left the reservations and threatened to make war. Faith in Wovoka's prediction was shattered on December 29, 1890, during the bloody massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Wovoka died in 1932.
1889 First group of Blackfeet admitted to Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania. Eventually 187 sent east.
1890 Blackfeet used in product commercial “Montana Indian Remedies.”
1890 Many Crow people killed by Blackfoot near Sweet Grass Hills, Canada.
1892 First Boarding school for the Blackfeet opens at Willow Creek, west of present-day Browning.
1893 Completion of the Great Northern Transcontinental Railroad through Blackfeet country.
1894 Town of Browning was established on the Blackfeet Reservation. 1895 Blackfeet Indian Agency Headquarters opens in the new town of Browning.
1896 Blackfeet sell the land that is to become Glacier National Park for the sum of $1,500,00 to be paid at $150,000 per year for ten years.
1897 Medical clinic established on The Blackfeet Reservation in Browning.
1899 U.S. Post Office at Durham relocated to Browning.
1902 Oil is discovered by a copper miner on Swift Creek (not commercial).
1903 Fence built around entire Blackfeet reservation in Montana with only three gates.
1903 White Calf, last head chief of the Piegan Blackfeet, dies while on a visit to Washington D.C.
1904 Clark Wissler records Blackfeet songs and stories.
1907 The Blackfeet Reservation was surveyed and land was parceled out to individual tribal members.
1909 Reservation fence removed.
1909 Enlarged Homestead Act brought many people to the area.
1910 U.S. Census reports that 2,268 Indians are living on the Blackfeet reservation, about the same number that lived there in 1885.
1907 - 1912 12 U.S. Policy to treat the Indian reservation as property of the entire tribe is reversed in favor of a policy of land allotment. Blackfeet reservation land is divided among individual Indians, each receiving 320 acres, held in trust by the government.
1913 Blackfeet Two Gun White Calf is the model for the Indian Head Nickel.
1914 The law confirmed that all Blackfeet hunting was prohibited in Glacier National Park, along with all fishing except by hook and line. The National Park Services recognizes that large animals migrated between the park and the Blackfeet Reservation, and tries to pressure the Blackfeet into selling an additional six-mile wide strip east of the park. Both the BIA and the Blackfeet reject the attempt at a further land grab.
1915 Blackfeet Began raising livestock on the reservation.
1915 Blackfeet Tribal Business Council (BTBC) created.
1919 President Wilson signs legislation repealing the 1907 Blackfeet Allotment Act.
1919 Sherbourne Dam and St. Mary’s Diversion Dam completed.
1919 Severe drought dropped cattle prices, forcing the sale of land. 1920 Blackfeet cattle herds wiped out by a severe winter. Starvation follows.
1920 Illegal Blackfeet hunting continues in Glacier National Park
1921 Five-Year Industrial Plan implemented opening large scale farming operations
1924 U.S. Chief Justice John Marshall made the decision that Indian tribes were “Domestic Dependent Nations: subject to the U.S. Congress, but not to State law.
1924 A Blackfeet leader circulates a petition calling for recognition of Blackfeet rights in Glacier National Park, but no progress is made.
1924 Snyder Act grants full U.S. Citizenship to all American Indians.
1925 The Blackfeet file a lawsuit based on the National Park Service prohibition of subsistence activities in Glacier National Park. The NPS renews its pressure on the Blackfeet to sell the six-mile wide strip on the Park’s eastern border.
1927 The 1927 Indian Act forbade aboriginals in Canada from forming political organizations, as well as practicing their traditional culture and language.
1930 The depression years bring employment and resource improvement through the Indian Division of the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC).
1931 Oil in commercial quantities discovered in Cut Bank.
1933 Cree and Stony Indians of Alberta formed the League of Indians of Alberta (LIA).
1934 Blackfeet Lose lands due to Congress passing the Indian Reorganization Act.
1934 Douglas Gold, a teacher/principal in the Blackfeet schools for 20 years, stated his conclusion that Blackfeet Indians were less intelligent than Whites.
1935 Blackfeet Indian Tribe organized as both a political and business corporation.
1939 T. F. McIlwraith, a Toronto Anthropologist, in a scientific assessment given in a conference of Canadian and U.S. Indian Officials, declared the era of government civilization of Native Americans, by adjusting their religious habits, livelihoods, and education, was finally at an end.
1941 Museum of the Plains Indian opens to the public in Browning.
1942 Minnie Spotted Woman, Blackfeet, becomes first Native American Woman to join Marines in WWII. 1943 Chris Shade and others from southwestern Alberta form the Blood Indian Local Association.
1951 The revised Indian Act in Canada continued to prohibit Indians from drinking, their lands were not subdivided, and 1953 Alcohol becomes legal on the Blackfeet reservation.
1962 Blackfeet Tribe restricts future enrollment to persons of 25% or more Blackfeet blood.
1964 Two Medicine River Dam bursts killing 30 and leaving hundreds homeless.
1964 Great Society programs provided temporary relief in certain areas of Blackfeet tribal life as schools were built, hospital facilities improved and adequate housing was made available.
1965 Solicitors voice their opinion on Blackfeet cattle trespassing in Yellowstone National Park.
1968 U.S. President, Lyndon B. Johnson's message, "The Forgotten American" advocates Indian tribal self-determination and rejection of the Federal policy of termini nation.
1969 Occupation of Alcatraz Island by Indian of all tribes.
1972 Pencil factory begins business on the Blackfeet reservation.
1972 Trail of broken treaties occupation of the Washington, D.C. BIA building.
1976 U.S. Congress enacts the Indian Child Welfare Act.
1977 Forrest Gerard confirmed as the first Indian Assistant Secretary of the Interior for the BIA.
1978 Earl Old Person made the first chief of the Blackfeet Nation since Chief White Calf.
1978 Glacier National Park considers fencing their border with the Blackfeet reservation, but the fencing was not completed due to Blackfeet complaints and at least one Congressional intervention.
1978 Indian Child Welfare Act passed by Congress, granting Tribal Governments authority in child custody cases.
1979 All Montana public school teachers on or near Indian reservations required to have a background in Native American Studies.
1981 Renaming of Trick Falls to Running Eagle Falls.
1982 There are 643 oil wells (producing 50 million barrels annually) and 47 producing gas wells, 90% of Blackfeet annual Income.
1983 Ground is broken for the new Blackfeet Medical Center.
1985 Cattle, but not horse, trespass was considerably reduced when the Blackfeet establish a protected area from St.
1987 Piegan Institute created as language survival school and counteract loss of Blackfeet language.
1990 Oil and gas was discovered along the Two Medicine and East Glacier borders.
1991 Sergeant Earl Heavyrunner serves in Iraq during Desert Storm. National Congress of American Indians organized.
1995 A 74-million-year-old baby T. Rex fossil, the smallest ever found, was discovered on the Blackfeet reservation. 1995 Nizipuhwahsin Center founded for the preservation of the Blackfeet language.
1998 Swift Fox (The companion of Nap’i) is reintroduced on the Blackfeet Reservation.
2003 Glacier National Park Rangers continue to find signs of Blackfeet livestock trespass: cattle trails, cow patties, horsehair, and wallows, cut wire fences, loss of foliage, loss of wildlife, and “degraded aesthetics.”