I met Chief Crowfoot in 1997 when we camped with grandchildren in Montana and in Canada. Of course I didn’t meet him in person, because he died in 1890, but I found his biography, and we have driven through the country where he lived. After reading about Crowfoot, I feel as if I had met him.
“Several Blackfeet women and with a boy were picking saskatoon berries when a grizzly bear surprised them. The women dropped their berry bags and ran. The boy tried to fit an arrow into his bow, but the bear swatted the bow away and attacked the boy. Men from the nearby camp jumped on their horses, shouted, and fired their guns into the air to scare the grizzly. Crowfoot ordered warriors to the other side of the grove of trees where the bear was hiding.
“With the whole camp gathered at a safe distance, the [men] rode to the other side of the grove. There, single riders went into the trees and tried to entice the grizzly toward them. When at last the huge beast came into view, the men shouted to Crowfoot, who was waiting on the far side. Quickly he guided his horse into the dense bushes and soon was behind the savage bear. With deadly accuracy, he plunged a spear into the animal and, when his horse became too frightened, dismounted and continued to stab the bear until its lifeless body crashed to the ground…from that time on [Crowfoot] was recognized throughout the tribe as a prominent chief.”
Crowfoot led his people through tragic times in Blackfeet (or Blackfoot) history with dignity and honor.
“Crowfoot learned quickly which white men he could trust, and those men in turn trusted him. Crowfoot foresaw the end of the buffalo, realized that his people could survive only with dramatic changes in their way of life, negotiated for supplies, tools, and food for his people, protested broken promises and fraudulent dealings. He co-operated with the Mounted Police and Indian Department officials, not because he could preserve the Blackfeet way of life, but because it was the only way to help his people.
“Crowfoot expected justice from the whites and demanded it from his own people: he was willing to risk his life for it.”
Crowfoot, Chief of the Blackfeet. He died “beloved by his people, feared by his foes, esteemed by all.”