Chief White Calf – Blackfoot – Died in Washington DC in 1903

Chief White Calf – 1873

While working with the Carlisle student records, I came across Helen White Calf, an Arickara from North Dakota.  Having spent many years on the powwow circuit, I was certainly aware of the White Buffalo story, and thought that maybe White Calf was connected to the White Buffalo story.

This is a series of three blogs that will discuss this topic.  This entry will discuss the original Chief White Calf, another will tell the story of the White Buffalo and a third will tell the story of Chief Two Guns White Calf, son of White Calf.

The original Chief White Calf lived near Benton, Montana.  He was considered the last chief of the Pikuni Blackfoot.  He died in Washington DC, and an article published in the New York Times on January 31 1903, titled “Chief White Calf’s Defiance of Washington Weather Fatal – His BattleScarred Body,” told of his demise , as follows:

White Calf, a leading chief of the Blackfoot tribe of Montana, died at midnight last night at Providence Hospital of pneumonia.  He had come to Washington 10 days ago with a delegation of head men in charge of Dr. George Bird Grinnell, the editor of Forest and Stream, who for many years lived among the Blackfeet and is one of the tribe by adoption.  The Indian office proposed to lease the lands of the Blackfeet to the cattle men, and the Indians objected, as they are themselves raising cattle.  Dr. Grinnell was commissioned to bring the Indians here to plead their case.

White Calf while here went about the town a good deal and refused to clothe as to withstand the damp air, dressing much as he would in his native dry mountain country.  In consequence he was taken fatally sick.  His associates went back to Montana and there was no Indian as his death-bed.  It is believed the though that the other chiefs had gone and he was alone so preyed on his mind as to hasten the end.

The old chief fought the whites many years to hold his country against them.  The physicians at the hospital marveled a the numerous scars of wounds which they found all over the old man’s body.  His breasts was literally covered with evidences of wounds.  The old man was well-known to Gen. Miles and had his confidence and respect. 

It is understood that the visit of the old chief to Washington will not be fruitless. The tribe wants to keep possession of a million acres they have in Montana, where they have 16,000 head of cattle.  Indian Commissioner Jones is credited with having agreed that they shall not be molested.  The lands are rich and much coveted by white men.

About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
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1 Response to Chief White Calf – Blackfoot – Died in Washington DC in 1903

  1. Wrong image. Standing man is Sits-in-the-middle Crow in DC in the 1870s.

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