University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1856

[Central superintendency],   pp. 65-131 PDF (28.8 MB)

Page 74

digest of the regulations and laws of the Indian Department, as the 
existing regulations are encumbered with a very large amount of 
obsolete matter, which frequently embarrasses and annoys the newly 
appointed, and, of course, inexperienced agent. It is likewise very 
desirable that every agent should be furnished with copies of all 
treaties and laws affecting the administration of Indian affairs. 
With great respect, I am, sir, your most obedient servant, 
Superintendent of Indian Affairs. 
Commissioner of Indian -Affairs. 
No. 22. 
BLACKFEET AGENCY, July 12, 1856. 
SIR: I have the honor to submit my annual report. It is forwarded 
at this early date, in order that it may, according to instructions, 
"reach the department by the first of October." 
The Blackfeet nation is composed of four tribes, named and known 
as follows: Gros Ventres, Piegans, Bloods, and Blackfeet. Each tribe 
is divided into bands, which are governed or led either by a chief or 
band-leader; the former office is hereditary, the latter depends upon 
the bravery of the individual and his success in war. They occupy 
as their hunting grounds an extent of country bounded nearly as fol- 
lows: On the west and south by a line commencing at a point where 
the main range of the Rocky mountains intersects the forty-ninth par- 
allel; running thence southerly along said mountains to Hell Gate 
Pass; thence in an easterly direction to the nearest source of the 
Muscle Shell river; down said river to its mouth; and thence down 
the Missouri river to the mouth of Milk river. On the east by a line 
running directly north from the mouth of Milk river. The northern 
boundary cannot be given, as their country extends far north into the 
British possessions. The country included within the boundaries 
given is that upon which they reside and hunt, and contains about 
fifty thousand square miles within the territory of the United States. 
That portion of it adjacent to the Rocky mountains is good soil, cov- 
ered with a luxuriant growth of vegetation, well watered by spring 
streams, and capable of supporting a dense agricultural population. 
This, with a few spots upon some of the rivers and the slopes of the 
small mountains, is, probably, all that would be considered desirable 
for farming purposes; but nearly the whole country is covered with 
the short nutritious buffalo grass and well adapted for grazing. 
The Gros Ventres number about three hundred and fifty lodges. 
They occupy that portion of the Blackfeet country between Milk and 
Missouri rivers, extending up the latter to the mouth of the Maria. 
They speak a language entirely different from the other three tribes, 
said to be similar to the Arrapahoe. The principal chiefs are, the 
Bear's Shirt, the Little Soldier, the Star Robe, the Sitting Woman, 
lh --                                                                   
            - - 

Go up to Top of Page