Rocky Boy Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana

July 11, 1861 Steamboat Chippewa Fiasco

On July 11, 1861, an event occurred where Milk River's mouth is. It's 6.8 miles northeast of Fort Peck, Montana. Through a treaty agreement, whites were allowed by Anishinabe leaders to use Missouri River to bring trade items by steamboat to Fort Benton trade post. First steamboat to reach Fort Benton trade post was named Chippewa and that was followed by one named Key West. That occurred in 1860. Alarmed Anishinabe ogimak became very concerned once they learned large numbers of illegal white settlers were arriving by steamboat to Fort Benton trade post. Historians claim that over 20,000 illegal white settlers used Mullan Road to travel from Fort Benton trade post and from Fort Walla Walla, Washington, westwards and eastwards, to Montana. It set off a war for control of Montana. That may have occurred in 1860 or 1861. On July 11, 1861, steamboat Chippewa exploded east of Fort Benton trade post. Specifically where Milk River's mouth is. Historians claim that a fire accidentally erupted on steamboat Chippewa which was carrying a large supply of gun powder. That gun powder was not going to be traded to Indians. It was going to be used by whites who were making themselves clear to Anishinabek, that they were troublemakers.

Supposedly after learning their steamboat was on fire, whites quickly evacuated their steamboat then set it loose to sail down river where it eventually exploded. According to historians, a force of Crow Indians showed up next day and joined whites to scavenge for any usuable items left after that explosion. Then whites supposedly left to travel to Fort Union and a large force of Lakota soldiers then showed up to battle Crow Soldiers. It is all complete nonsense. We are not stupid! White historians are covering up an event that occurred. Most likely, Ojibway Soldiers attacked steamboat Chippewa and either captured or killed white passengers on steamboat Chippewa, then looted it for supplies it carried. They then destroyed it. After accomplishing their assignment, they may have released most or all white captives they held. That is probably when they returned to Fort Union (Fort Buford, North Dakota) and notified their authorities about their ordeal. A battle was obviously fought (white historians claim it was Indian against Indian) in which many casualties were inflicted. We just don't know how many casualties occurred. Some of those 19th century steamboats could carry 100s of passengers. That means 100s of casualties possibly occurred. Indian casualties were probably higher because whites had superior weapons yet Ojibway Soldiers won this little known battle.

Once steamboat traffic to Fort Benton commenced, teamsters formed wagon train teams of 100 or more teamsters to travel overland from Fort Benton to Helena. They were well armed with latest weapons including repeating rifles and revolvers. Brave Ojibway Soldiers dreaded being sent to either monitor those teamsters or fight them. On many occasions they had to fight. Ojibway casualties were much heavier as a result of superior weapons whites had. White settlements in southwest Montana commenced around 1860. Mullan Road was their principle route to bring in supplies. White historians are fibbing about Bozemon Trail. Just including casualties both Indians and whites civilians suffered between Fort Benton and Helena, they may have been equal to or higher than, casualties Ojibway Soldiers and American Soldiers suffered fighting each other.

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