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[photo] Two Medicine Fight Site view south
National Register of Historic Places Collection

Two Medicine Fight Site was the scene of the only violence of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. On July 26, 1806, Meriwether Lewis, George Drouillard and the Field brothers, Joseph and Reubin, left Camp Disappointment and traveled down the Marias River. There they encountered eight members of a Blackfeet tribe known as the Piegans and made camp for the night. Lewis asked the Piegans about trade in the area and discovered that a British post was six days away. There one could "obtain arm[s] amunition speritous liquor blankets &c in exchange for wolves and some beaver skins" (DeVoto 1997, 436). Unworried by news of an established British trade post, Lewis told the Indians of the advantages of having the Americans on the plains. He also explained that he had mediated peace between warring Indian nations on either side of the mountains. This was upsetting news to the Blackfeet Indians. Lewis had just informed them that not only did he organize the worst enemies of the Blackfeet--the Nez Perce, the Shoshones and others--he intended to supply them with weapons. The Blackfeet monopoly on guns would end if the explorers succeeded. Lewis and his men, unaware of the Piegans fear of their plans, settled down to sleep.

Two Medicine Fight Site view north
National Register of Historic Places Collection

The next morning Lewis awoke to the shouts of his men. The Piegans were stealing their weapons. Drouillard and Lewis quickly chased the Indians and recovered their guns, but Reubin Field, in his struggle, stabbed and killed one of the Piegans. The Indians then tried to take the explorers' horses. This struggle also ended in the death of a Piegan at the hands of Lewis, who was almost shot. He commented, "being bearheaded I felt the wind of his bullet very distinctly" (DeVoto 1997, 439). The Piegans fled and the explorers broke camp and hurriedly continued down the river.

This struggle on July 27, 1806, was the only violent conflict between the Corps of Discovery and American Indians and resulted in the only two Indian casualties of the Expedition. Furthermore, it marks the first meeting and conflict between any representative of the American government and the Blackfeet Indians.

Two Medicine Fight Site is just south of Cut Bank, Montana, approximately 19 miles southeast of Camp Disappointment. The site is not open to the public.

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