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Lewis & Clark ~ Two Medicine Encounter

According to most history books, on the return trip in 1806 Lewis, Drouillard and the Field brothers encountered eight members of the Blackfeet Tribe (Pikuni) and made camp for the night.  During this first day and night, Lewis explained the United States’ intent to bring about a comprehensive peace between all the Indian tribes of the west.  He went on to add that the Shoshones and Nez Perces – mortal enemies of the Blackfeet – had already agreed to this peace and would be receiving guns and supplies because of it.

To the Blackfeet, American plans represented a direct threat.  As far as the Indians were concerned, giving guns to their adversaries only could result in a weakening of Blackfeet power.  That night, the Blackfeet attempted to steal the expedition’s guns.  Their plans went awry and in the chaos that ensued Lewis and Reuben Field each killed a Blackfeet warrior.  The surviving Blackfeet returned to their tribe and communicated what they had learned of America’s goals for the region.  From that point forward, the Blackfeet regarded the Americans with hostility and acted toward them similarly.

The Two Medicine Fight Site, where they encountered eight members of a Blackfeet Tribe (Pikuni) and made camp for the night, is about 25 miles southeast of Browning, Montana in Pondera County on the eastern edge of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on October 6, 1970.  (Access by permission from private landowner only).

Lewis & Clark's Two Medicine Fight Site along Montana 358 between Valier and Cut Bank on the eastern edge of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana

The Two Medicine Fight Site struggle on July 27, 1806 was the only violent conflict between the Corps of Discovery and Native Americans and resulted in the only two Indian casualties of the Expedition.  Furthermore, it marks the first meeting and conflict between any representative of the American government and the Blackfeet Nation.


Lewis & Clark's Two Medicine Fight Site, the encounter with the Blackfeet along Montana 358 between Valier and Cut Bank on the eastern border of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana

"Captain Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, accompanied by three of his men, explored this portion of the country upon their return trip from the coast.  On July 26, 1806, they met eight Piegans (Blackfeet) who Lewis mistakenly identified as Gros Ventres and camped with them that night on the Two Medicine Creek on a point northeast of here.  Next morning the Indians by attempting to steal the explorers' guns and horses precipitated a fight in which two of the Indians were killed.

This was the only hostile encounter in their entire trip from St. Louis to Pacific and back.  Lewis unwittingly dropped a bombshell on the Piegans with the news that their traditional enemies the Nez Perce, Shoshone and Kootenai were uniting in an American-inspired peace and would be getting guns and supplies from Yankee traders.  This threatened the Blackfeet's 20 year domination of the Northern Plains made possible by Canadian guns."


"Blackfeet recollections differ from those
recorded in Lewis' journal"


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