Blackfeet Nation remembers massacre of January 23, 1870

Members of the Blackfeet Nation of Montana held a ceremony to honor the victims of the January 23, 1870, massacre on the Marias River.

Army forces attacked the camp of Chief Heavy Runner, who was friendly with the U.S., while most of the adult men were hunting. At least 173 women, children and elders were killed.

“When the soldiers reached the camp of Heavy Runner, this chief went toward them as if to tell them who he was and explain his mission there, but they opened fire," Joseph Kipp, an Indian guide who told Maj. Eugene Baker he was at the wrong camp, later testified to the Indian Claims Commission:

"(T)hose who were killed were the Chief and such Indians as could not hunt, being the old men, women and children. … Only one shot was fired by any of the Indians," Kipp said, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported.

“After the firing was over, the soldiers gathered up the bedding, clothing and subsistence, and piled them up with a lot of wood and set fire to the pile and burned everything up. … I myself counted 217 bodies," he said.

Baker and other Army officials were criticized for downplaying the deaths of women, children and elders. In his reports, Baker exaggerated the number of adult Blackfeet men who were killed.

Get the Story:
Blackfeet remember Montana’s greatest Indian massacre (The Bozeman Daily Chronicle 1/25)

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