Rocky Boy Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana

1862: Whites Invade Montana

In 1862, whites discovered gold in southwestern Montana and it set in motion a stampede of illegal white settlers to Montana and it did lead to Ojibway reprisals. What occurred in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming region between 1862-1868 was a part of 1862-1868's Snake River War and also 1866-1868's Red Clouds War. We will name this Montana War conflict Mullan Road War (Black Hills War). Merriweather Lewis wrote in early June 1805, that he was near what is now Loma, Montana and he could see Montana's infamous Black Hills to his south. He thought it was one mountain range (Little Belt Mountains) yet there were two. He was looking at Highwood Mountains. Through an agreement from an earlier Stevens Treaty, Ojibway chiefs allowed whites to use Missouri River to send trade items to Fort Benton by steam boat. They also allowed whites to expand an Indian road historians refer to as Mullan road, so trade items could reach Ojibway settlements west of Fort Benton. This occurred at least two decades after first white settlement was established in Montana. In 1860, whites were allowed to use steamboats to bring in trade items to Fort Benton. They also snuck their way into southwest Montana and quickly established Bannack and Virginia City. Both were located in mountainous terrain and fortified. Montana had a small Ojibway population living in Montana's western Montana valleys. Montana's plains supported an Ojibway population of near 1,000,000. Vast herds of buffalo allowed their population to be very high. Though an all out white invasion to Montana commenced in 1862, it probably first became a burden to Montana Ojibway leaders in 1860. They agreed to let American's use Steamboats to reach Fort Benton to bring in supplies including trade items. However, they quickly learned they were supplying Fort Benton with ammunition and weapons. On July 11, 1861 this Montana War commenced with Steamboat Chippewa being destroyed. This war expanded to Minnesota in 1862 and intensified in Idaho. American Soldiers were also sent to North Dakota and Wyoming. This war coincides with your Civil War. However, they exclude it except for Minnesota's Ojibway Uprising against Red River Colony.

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