Crow History and Bighorn Country
“People of the Canyon”
It was used for literally thousands of years by Paleo-Indians. This route went from the Wind River Mountains to the mouth of the Shoshone River then detoured around the western side of the Bighorn Canyon, finishing at Grapevine Creek. One group of wanderers didn’t just use the Bad Pass Trail as a through route, they instead arrived in the canyon area and remained - The Crows.
A Reservation and the Bozeman Trail
This enraged the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne as it cut straight through their hunting grounds. These tribes declared war on the wagon trains and eventually the U.S. military that was sent to guard the trail. Conversely, though the trail also bisected Crow lands, the Crows were friendly and willing to assist travelers along the trail.
Fort C.F. Smith and the Fort Laramie Treaty
The fort was used until the mid-summer of 1868, but was closed due to continued raids by other tribes and a peace policy being enacted by the federal government. The Crow nation that had depended on the fort for many needs was sorry to see it abandoned, yet continued their friendly ways. Unfortunately, this did not stop the government from downsizing the reservation in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, to 8 million acres.
The Crows continued to act as allies during the ensuing Indian Wars of the 1870s. They were also key to a permanent peace agreement that resulted from the conflict’s end. Chief Plenty Coups, leader of the Crow, helped the U.S. government in bringing the wars to a close. As a reward for their efforts, the government promised to reserve land for the Crow in perpetuity around the Bighorn region.
Did You Know?
The Lockhart Ranch - the best preserved historic homestead - in the Bighorn Basin was owned by noted author Caroline Lockhart. Starting with 160 acres in 1926, she added land until she controlled over 6,000 acres. More...