Two Medicine River, Montana
Greetings from Montana, Trail Watchers. At last I have been able to go to (or near) the site on the Two Medicine River in Montana, where Meriwether Lewis and a couple other men fought with some young Blackfeet men who coveted their horses and guns on the expedition's return trip in July of 1806.
It proved to be the only fatal altercation of the expedition, fatal to two of the Blackfeet. One was stabbed to death by Reubin Field and the other was shot in the stomach by Lewis himself and probably died soon after. A less pleasant way of putting it is that he was left for dead as Lewis and his men jumped on their horses and galloped away.
The Two Medicine River in its dramatic Northern Plains setting on the Blackfeet Reservation. Its headwaters are in Glacier National Park to the west.
Near the site along the bluffs of the Two Medicine is an iron tipi-like structure with several interpretive signs. There is an additional sign discussing a tipi ring--a circle of stones that once weighed down the edges of a Blackfeet tipi--adjacent to the main interpretive site. This was also interesting to me because when I did an archaeology field school along the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies, we actually would hike through a tipi ring site to get to the rock shelters we were excavating. (Later, the tipi ring site was excavated by the field school and its name, Killdeer Canyon, was bestowed by me, albeit inadvertently when I mentioned in passing that the preponderance of killdeers [a ground nesting plover] might lend their name to the ravine we hiked through each morning!)
Here is the interpretive site dedicated to the Two Medicine fight. The lone sign to the left describes a tipi ring just below it. The signs inside the iron tipi discuss the Two Medicine incident.
This afternoon when I drove to the site, the weather was hot, somewhat overcast, and still. It was also very, very quiet in this remote location, although I noticed that there are quite a few of those little oil wells scattered about this section of the reservation. (I highly doubt that Blackfeet individuals or the tribe reap the revenues from these oil wells).
This photo looking in the opposite direction of the previous picture of the river shows some of the development in this area, as evidenced by power lines and an oil pipeline suspended over the river.
This photo on one of the interpretive signs in the "tipi" supposedly shows the actual campsite of Lewis and his men before their fateful encounter with the Blackfeet. It is located somewhere on private property, according to the caption below it.
In my next post, I will discuss the text and images included on the interpretive signs at the Two Medicine site.
This trail sign in Montana includes an image of Sacagawea and her baby.
[All photos by K. Dahl, copyright 2007.]