Crow Indian Reservation
Crow Indian Reservation
|Established||May 7, 1868|
|• Body||Crow Tribe Executive Branch|
|• Chairman||Frank White Clay|
|• Vice-Chairman||Lawrence de Crane|
|• Total||3,606.54 sq mi (9,340.9 km2)|
|• Land||3,593.56 sq mi (9,307.3 km2)|
|• Density||2.0/sq mi (0.76/km2)|
|GDP||$1.9 Billion (2018)|
The Crow Indian Reservation is the homeland of the Crow Tribe. Established 1868, the reservation is located in parts of Big Horn, Yellowstone, and Treasure counties in southern Montana in the United States. The Crow Tribe has an enrolled membership of approximately 11,000, of whom 7,900 reside in the reservation. 20% speak Crow as their first language.
The reservation, the largest of the seven Indian reservations in Montana, is located in south-central Montana, bordered by Wyoming to the south and the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation to the east. The reservation includes the northern end of the Bighorn Mountains, Wolf Mountains, and Pryor Mountains. The Bighorn River flows north from the Montana-Wyoming state line, joining the Little Bighorn just east of Hardin. Part of the reservation boundary runs along the ridgeline separating Pryor Creek and the Yellowstone River. The city of Billings is approximately 10 miles (16 km) northwest of the reservation boundary.
It has a land area of 3,593.56 square miles (9,307.3 km2) and a total area of 3,606.54 square miles (9,340.9 km2), making it either the fifth or sixth-largest reservation in the country (alternating with the Standing Rock Reservation depending on whether water areas are counted). Reservation headquarters are in Crow Agency, Montana.
The reservation is located in old Crow country. In August 1805, fur trader Francois-Antoine Larocque camped at the Little Bighorn River and traveled through the area with a Crow group.
Pressure from Europeans north of Yellowstone River and a Lakota (Sioux) invasion into Crow treaty guaranteed land from the east (the lead-up to Red Cloud's War) made the 1860s a trying time for the Crow. "Oglalas under Crazy Horse and Red Cloud and Hunkpapas and Minneconjous under Sitting Bull continued to follow the dwindling buffalo herds west from the Powder River, while gold seekers travelled north into the [Crow] region along the Bozeman [Trail]." Steamboats on the Missouri River brought additional prospectors into the Yellowstone area. The situation called for a new Crow treaty.
On May 7, 1868, the Crow sold around 30 million acres of their 1851 territory and agreed to live in a reservation. The border to the south was the 45th degree of north latitude, while the 107th degree of longitude west was the eastern border. Both borderlines met the Yellowstone at a point. The connection of these two points followed the course of the river and made up the last border of the 1868 reservation. It comprised about eight million acres.
Major F. D. Pease was the first civil agent at the Crow reservation, from 1870 to 1874.
Land cessions to the United States approved in 1882, 1892 and 1906 cut the western and northernmost part of the 1868 reservation.
Crow chief Plenty Coups, Robert Yellowtail and others stopped efforts to open the reservation in 1917. In a hotel room in Washington, D.C., they opened a bundle over the incense of buffalo chips from animals in the National Zoo and prayed for help. "The next day the attempted appropriation of their land was soundly defeated."
Yellowtail made headlines when he became superintendent of his own tribe's reservation in 1934, the first Indian to do so.
The reservation got its present shape after moderate land cuts in 1937 and in connection with the construction of the Bighorn Canyon Dam in the 1960s.
The value of the enormous amount of coal under the surface in the old tribal territory became clear to the reservation Crows after the Arab Oil Embargo in the 1970s. The Crow Nation owns 1.4 billion tons of coal, enough to supply the United States for a year. The reservation's Absaloka coal mine provides half of the tribe's nonfederal budget. The single-pit mine opened in 1974 and employs 170 people. The decline of coal mining in the United States has forced the tribe to lay off 1,000 of its 1,300 employees. Every tribal citizen receives a $225 coal payment every four months. Half of the reservation's adult population is unemployed.
In 2013, the tribe and Cloud Peak Energy agreed to open the Big Metal mine, which would have brought the company $10 million in revenue over the first five years. President Barack Obama blocked the mine and then imposed a moratorium on any new coal leasing on public lands. In March 2017, the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation sued Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to stop his attempt to lift the moratorium.
- Crow Agency, Montana
- Fort Smith, Montana (part)
- Hardin, Montana (part)
- Lodge Grass, Montana
- Pryor, Montana
- St. Xavier, Montana
- Wyola, Montana
Historic places and attractions
The biggest attraction in the reservation is the Little Bighorn National Monument. On June 25, 1876, combined forces from the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes defeated the Seventh Cavalry Regiment commanded by George Armstrong Custer. Local Crow scouts defending their reservation guided Custer.
Chief Plenty Coups (Alek-Chea-Ahoosh) State Park and Home is located near the town of Pryor. It has a small museum dedicated to Chief Plenty Coups and the Crow Tribe. The chief's two-floor lodge house and grocery store is preserved.
The PBS TV series Reading Rainbow partially filmed its tenth episode, "The Gift of the Sacred Dog", on the reservation on June 17, 1983. The title was based on a book by Paul Goble and was narrated by actor Michael Ansara.
- "Crow Tribe of Indians". Retrieved 2019-07-24.
- 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. "My Tribal Area". United States Census Bureau.
- Charles J. Kappler, ed. (1904), "Montana: Crow Reserve", Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties, Washington, DC: Government Printing Office
- David J. Wishart, ed. (2004). "Native Americans: Crows". Encyclopedia of the Great Plains. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-4787-7.
- Aadland, Chris. "Bringing a language back to life". KTVQ. Scripps Media. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
- Lopard, James J., Margery Hunter Brown and Richmond L. Clow: Tribal Government Today. Politics on Montana Indian Reservations. Boulder, San Francisco, & London, 1990, acres p. 57.
- Wood, Raymond W., and Thomas D. Thiessen: Early Fur Trade on the Northern Plains. Canadian Traders Among the Mandan and Hidatsa Indians, 1738-1818. Norman and London, 1987, p. 184.
- Kappler, Charles J.: Indian Affairs. Laws and Treaties. Washington, 1904. Vol. 2, p. 594.
- Hoxie, Frederick E.: Parading Through History. The making of the Crow Nation in America, 1805-1935. Cambridge, 1995, p. 89. See also Rzeczkowski, Frank: The Crow Indians and the Bozeman Trail. Montana, The Magazine of Western History, Vol. 49, No. 4 (1999), pp. 30-47. Utley, Robert M.: The Bozeman Trail before John Bozeman: A busy Land.Montana, The Magazine of Western History, Vol. 53, No. 2 (2003), pp. 20-31.
- Hoxie, Frederick E.: Parading Through History. The making of the Crow Nation in America, 1805-1935. Cambridge, 1995, p. 97.
- Hoxie, Frederick E.: Parading Through History. The making of the Crow Nation in America, 1805-1935. Cambridge, 1995, p. 92.
- Kappler, Charles J.: Indian Affairs. Laws and Treaties. Washington, 1904. Vol. 2, p. 1008.
- Pease, Eloise Whitebear (Ed.): Absaraka. Crow Tribal Treaty Centennial Issue. Billings, 1968, p. 17.
- Kappler, Charles J.: Indian Affairs. Laws and Treaties. Washington, 1904. Vol. 1, pp. 195-197 (1882); Vol. 1, pp. 958-967 (1892) and Vol. 3, pp. 614-618 (1906).
- Viola, Herman J.: Diplomats in Buckskins. A History of Indian Delegations in Washington City. Washington, D.C., 1981, p. 147.
- Poten, Constance J.: Robert Yellowtail, the New Warrior. Montana, The Magazine of the West, Vol. 39 (Summer 1989), pp. 36–41, p. 38.
- Pease, Eloise Whitebear (Ed.): Absaraka. Crow Tribal Treaty Centennial Issue. Billings, 1968, p. 56.
- Pease, Eloise Whitebear (Ed.): Absaraka. Crow Tribal Treaty Centennial Issue. Billings, 1968, p. 21.
- Poten, Constance J.: Robert Yellowtail, the New Warrior. Montana, The Magazine of the West, Vol. 39 (Summer 1989), pp. 36–41, p. 40–41.
- Krauss, Clifford (15 June 2013). "Coal Industry Pins Hopes on Exports as U.S. Market Shrinks". The New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
- Turkewitz, Julie (2 April 2017). "Tribes That Live Off Coal Hold Tight to Trump's Promises". The New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
- Dunlay, Thomas W.: Wolves for the Blue soldiers. Indian Scouts and Auxiliaries with the United States Army, 1860-1890. Lincoln and London, 1982, pp. 113-114.
- Linderman, Frank B.: Plenty Coups. Chief of the Crows. Lincoln/London, 1962, pp. 239-240, (for other editions of the book, find pages in Index about "Mount Vernon".). McRae, W. C. and Judy Jewell: Montana Handbook. Hong Kong, 1992, p. 80.
- Medicine Crow, Joseph: From the Heart of the Crow Country. The Crow Indians' own Stories. New York, 1992, pp. 119-123.