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Lewis and Clark
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Historic Sites and Buildings

historic site Lewis' Fight with the Blackfeet Site

Location (approximate): Pondera County, on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, along the south side of Two Medicine River about 4 miles below the mouth of Badger Creek and 1-1/2 miles south of the Glacier-Pondera County line, some 14 air miles southwest of the town of Cut Bank. Ranch trails come close to the site. These trails lead from the secondary road to the village of Valier that runs south from U.S. 2 about 3 miles west of the town of Cut Bank. The site is about 4-1/2 miles west of the point where the secondary road crosses Two Medicine River. Make local inquiry.

While reconnoitering the Marias River area on the return from the Pacific in 1806, at this site the Lewis party killed two Blackfeet Indians, the only Indian fatalities inflicted by the expedition. Indeed, the fight with the Blackfeet and the acrimonious clash with the Teton Sioux were the only major examples of bad relations with the natives on the entire journey.

The circle marks the approximate place where Lewis and three companions camped with eight Blackfeet Indians on the evening of July 26, 1806, along Two Medicine River. The next morning, a fight erupted when the natives tried to seize the explorers' rifles and run off with their horses. In the ensuing melee, two Indians died. Edward Mathison, Robert H. Anderson, and Helen B. West identified this site in 1963-64. (Helen B. West.)

On July 26, 1806, Lewis and his three companions were moving southward from Camp Disappointment, Mont., heading back to the Missouri to rendezvous with the rest of their party. Along Two Medicine River, eight Blackfeet were encountered. Although wary of hostilities, the explorers camped overnight with them along the south side of the river. At dawn, the Indians jumped the white men and tried to steal their horses. In the clash, during which Lewis narrowly missed being shot, two of the Blackfeet died and the rest fled with part of the white men's horses, but left some of theirs behind. The prospect of meeting a large band of Blackfeet, known to be in the area, spurred the four men to make a forced ride to the Missouri, where they reunited with the main body of their group on July 28.

The site, a small bottom surmounted by 250-foot-high bluffs, is still almost untouched by man. It is in private ownership within the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

Last Updated: 22-Feb-2004