Blackfeet Nation in 1869
In the Montana Territory the year of 1869 was ushered in with bad feelings. The lawless segment of the white population continued to act in ways to anger the Indians. The Indians continued to steal horses and sell them to the Hudson Bay Company in Saskatchewan, although the horse stealing usually occurred after an atrocity committed by the whites.
Before we can understand the Blackfeet Indians in 1869, we need to understand their history before they were acquainted with whites. In a battle with the Assinaboines in Saskatchewan, the head chief of the nation which would later be named the Blackfeet and Bloods was killed resulting in a feud within the nation. Older warriors followed the black banner of the hereditary claimant. Younger men aligned with the bloody banner of a warrior who claimed succession by reason of prowess and ability. The followers of the black banner were defeated and forced to move south to the Missouri River. That migration in the fall after the prairies had burned caused their moccasins and leggings to turn black from the ashes, and so the Crows named them the Blackfeet. The victors of the feud were called Bloods. The Blackfeet were again divided because of an ambitious warrior named Piegan (The Pheasant). In defeat he was forced to leave the tribe. He and his followers were called the Piegans. re
These Indians were highly rated as warriors by their surrounding tribes. The men were tall, strong, well clothed. The Blackfeet were cruel, in the manner of Indians, but not more so than their neighboring tribes. They long had the reputation of being the most treacherous and blood thirsty of our Indians, but that description came from the tribes with whom they warred. Their reputation was reinforced with whites because of a school book written for American children that described the Blackfeet as hostile and bellicose. The social organization of the Blackfeet nation was quite complicated with seven ranks of warriors and tribal laws enforced by a general council. Their religion was also well developed. They were sun worshippers. In sum, the Blackfeet were a well organized society of hunters and warriors. 
In Oct 1855, Governor Stevens declared “common amity” between the US and the Motanna tribes. In 1860, the Blackfeet were pronounced “the most peaceful nation on the Missouri River”. During the Civil War the state of peace was disturbed. The discovery of gold in 1862-1863 attracted a large white population and the whites furnished the Indians with all the whiskey they could pay for. Horses were stolen, and sold, by the Bloods. Trappers retaliated and killed four warriors. Drunken whites killed three Bloods in Ft Benton. The Bloods killed ten whites cutting logs. 
On Friday, 6 Apr 1869, Capt George W Ebert and his wife Nancy Ann (Poe) Ebert aboard the str Mollie Ebert with a load of freight and passengers were Montana bound from St Louis. The Mollie Ebert , new that season was designed specifically for the “mountain trade”. The first entry in her journal on Indians was dated 7 May. Each day had an entry on Indians through May. On 24 May Indians rushed on board the Mollie Ebert and the crew could not get them to leave. The Indians numbered thirty-five and stayed three days. 
On 13 Jun 1869, the Mollie Ebert
was docked at a woodyard where there had been a fight in the spring. Thirteen Indians had been killed; “they cut off Indian heads and boyled them to get thair calp to send to washington citey”. On 16 Jun Nancy Ann Ebert wrote that there “is a nother partey of Indians crossing the river. I suppose they will make a raid on us”. On Sunday, 20 Jun, “we expect to have trouble with the Indians I will lay down my pen and reed the bible”. 
In Oct 1869, the military was called to assist the Indian Bureau. General Hancock, then commanding the Department of Dakota issued instructions “If the lives and property of citizens can best be protected by strinking the Indians, I want them struck. Tell Baker to strike them hard.” On 6 Jan 1870, Col EM Baker with four companies of cavalry and two companies of mounted infantry departed Fort Shaw for the Piegan camps of Bear Chief and Red Horn. On 23Jan, the attack was a complete surprise. A serious outbreak of small pox among the Indians caused them not to set up normal precautions against attack. One-hundred-seventy-three Indians were killed. All captives were released at once on learning of small pox. There was some controversy however. Of the 173 killed only 33 were men and only 15 fighting men; 90 were women; the remaining 50 were children, none older than twelve. 
Fifty-six (56) whites were slain before the end of the 1869 season. Hundreds of Indians were killed and died of small pox. By the end of the fall of 1869, two-hundred-twenty-seven (227) horses and mules had been stolen. Almost all were sold to the Edmonton House and Mountain House in British America for arms and ammunition. Although the Mollie Ebert involuntarily provided transport to a group of Indians for three days, Nancy Ann Poe dids not name the tribe. All in all , a tough, bloody year.
 JP Dunn, Massacres of the Mountains: A History of the Indians Wars of the Far West 1815-1875,Archer House Inc, New York, Jan 1,1965, p 433.
 JP Dunn, Massacres of the Mountains: A History of the Indians Wars of the Far West 1815-1875,Archer House Inc, New York, Jan 1,1965, p 434.
 JP Dunn, Massacres of the Mountains: A History of the Indians Wars of the Far West 1815-1875,Archer House Inc, New York, Jan 1,1965, p 440.
 Nancy Ann Ebert, Journal, 1869.
 Nancy Ann Ebert, Journal, 1869.
 JP Dunn, Massacres of the Mountains: A History of the Indians Wars of the Far West 1815-1875,Archer House Inc, New York, Jan 1,1965, p 450.
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