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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1864
([1864])

Montana superintendency,   pp. 293-303 PDF (4.8 MB)


Page 301

301 
MONTANA SUPERINTENDENCY. 
No. 140. 
BLACKFEET AGENCY, 
Fort Benton, February 17, 1864. 
SIR: I have the honor to lay before you the following information: 
In my letter of the 3d instant I informed you of my arrangement made with
the Gros Ventres by the express sent to them on the 18th of January last.
In accordance with that arrangement, on the morning of the 13th the Gros
Ventres appeared on the bluff about one mile from the fort and hoisted the
stars and stripes; this was immediately responded to by the firing of cannon
and hoisting the stars and stripes over the fort. A party of whites, with
the 
head chief of the Piegans, went out and met them, and all came in to the
fort 
together, singing and performing other rites characteristic of these tribes.
But 
a short time elapsed after their arrival before the Gros Ventres sent for
all the 
Piegans to come to their room and make peace. All the Indians of both tribes
immediately assembled, and the agent was sent for-to witness the ceremony.
I 
repaired forthwith to their room and witnessed the proceedings, such as smoking
the medicine pipe of peace, making peace speeches, and other ceremonies.
They 
were all of one mind, and determined to make a permanent and lasting peace.
After an hour's sitting they broke up with the best of feeling, and apparently
as harmonious as two parties could possibly be. I immediately sent for all
the 
Piegan chiefs in camp near the fort, and they came in forthwith, and on the
morning of the 16th 1 held a council with four of the Piegan chiefs and four
of 
the Gros Ventres and several of the principal men of each tribe. The Far-ma-
see, or Sitting Squaw, head chief of the Gros Ventres, and the Little Dog,
head 
chief of the Piegans, spoke, each for his tribe and absent chiefs. They said
they had been at war for a long time, but now they had made a peace and were
determined to keep it, and they were determined their people should keep
it. I 
told them I was pleased with what they had said and done, advised them what
course to pursue hereafter and what I should expect of them in the future.
The 
council broke up, and I dismissed them with the best of feeling, and all
appeared 
to be joyously glad. There were about fifty Gros Ventres; the leading men
of 
the tribe have returned to their home, and in two or three weeks will come
back 
with their whole camp to the fort to trade. The Little Dog has gone with
them to their camp, and will return with them. It is the intention of both
tribes 
to encamp together on Milk river after they all get through with their trade.
When the Far-ma-see left he requested me to make the chiefs of the Blackfeet,
Blood, and North Piegan Indians remain at the fort till his return, (in case
they 
arrived while they were away,) as he and his people wanted to make peace
with 
them also. 
I feel as though the first and most important step towards a permanent peace
among the tribes of the Blackfeet nation has been successfully accomplished,
and that but little more work remains to be done to see these tribes in the
en- 
joyment of peaceful relations and free from the restraints incident to the
havoc 
of war. I am confident such will be the result. As regards its permanency
no 
one can tell; time alone must reveal it. There are influences that surround
them that are strong for war, and at a time when least expected, these influ-
ences may destroy the hopes of the best and wisest of us all. The hostile
atti- 
tude of the Indians on the north and east may cause an outbreak before the
year closes. Whiskey traders may create dissensions among them, and war 
among themselves be the result. Under the circumstances we ought fo be pre-
pared for the worst; we are creatures of circumstances, and the present admon-
ishes us to be prepared, while we must judge the future by the past. My duty


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