Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

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The Crow Indians and the Bozeman Trail

By Frank Rzeczkowski

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Describe the relationships among the tribes: Sioux, Crow, and Cheyenne.

How did the Bozeman Trail change or shape the history of the region?


1)    How did "white society" have an indirect effect upon the Crow people before 1864?

2)    What effect did the Bozeman Trail have on white-Crow relations?

3)    What were the conditions of the Crows' allegiance to the United States?   Where exactly was Crow country and why was it desirable?

4)    Why did the Sioux move West, encroaching on the Crow territory? What were the impacts on the Crow?

5)    What two events led to creation of the Bozeman Trail?

6)    What stopped the Crow from moving farther West?

7)    Why do you think the Crows showed greater hostility toward miners than towards fur traders and military expeditions?

8)    Prior to the creation of the Bozeman Trail, how did people get to Montana?

9)    What happened to the Crow people when Sioux attacks on the upper Missouri cut them off from white relations?

10)    Who blazed the Bozeman Trail? What was its route?

11)    What and whose actions sparked a war between the Sioux and the United States?

12)    How did the opening of the trail benefit the Crow?

13)    What allegiance did the Sioux propose to the Crow?   What sort of quandary faced the Crow? What was their decision?

14)    What did White Mouth tell the soldiers at Fort Smith?

15)    What were the thoughts/reasoning of the two sides of the Crow argument to join with the Sioux or not?

16)    What was the Sioux's "greatest victory over the army"?   Describe what happened. What were the repercussions of the victory?

17)    How were the soldiers at Fort C.F. Smith and the Sioux using the Crows as intermediaries?

18)    What was the Sioux ultimatum brought about by the Crow-White friendship?

19)    Who made up the "Montana Militia" and what did they do?

20)    What did General Sully's letter promise to the Crows?

21)    What recommendations to and agreements with the Crows did Kinney make at Fort Kearney?

22)    How did Kinney envision life for the Crows in the Powder River country?

23)    How was cooperation between the Crows and the United States making the Crows dependent?

24)    At the meeting with the commission in 1868, what were the terms that the Crows initially insisted upon?

25)    What was the outcome of the initial meeting of the Crow and the Commission?

26)    What treaty proposal did the United States' government bring to the tribes in February 1869?

27)    Why was the 1869 treaty a setback for the Crows?

28)    What significance did the Bozeman Trail have in Crow history? 


-    Plot the Bozeman Trail on a map. Compare the Bozeman Trail route to other overland trails.

-    Research who Jim Bridger was and write a biography of him.

-    Research who John Bozeman was and write a biography of him.

-    Read Bear's Tooth quote on page? . Write a one-page reflection on Bear's Tooth's impassioned plea.

-    Write an essay response to this question.   Why was it so important for the Crows to retain "their culture, lifestyles, and integrity as a people"? Why were the whites more threatening to the Crows then the Sioux?

Read the book Red Cloud's War.