WEST GLACIER, MT. – The 2017 Glacier National Park annual entrance pass is now available at park entrance stations and the park headquarters building in West Glacier.
The pass depicts the image of Francis X. Guardipee, the first Blackfeet Native American to serve as a ranger in Glacier National Park. Guardipee became a ranger in 1930. His duties took him throughout the park, including Two Medicine, Nyack, and winters in East Glacier. He retired in 1948 and spent his retirement in Browning with his wife, Alma. He was a dedicated Boy Scout troop leader, and when he died in 1970, had spent more than half a century leading Boy Scout Troop 100. Chief Lodgepole Peak was named in honor of Guardipee in 1973. The peak is located in the Two Medicine area of the park.
The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) is the legislation that allows the park to collect entrance and camping fees, and retain 80 percent of the collected revenue. The remaining 20 percent is distributed throughout the National Park System. Basic park operations are funded by direct appropriations from Congress.
The entrance pass in 2017 will be $50. The $5 fee increase over the $45 2016 annual pass reflects input from the civic engagement process Glacier National Park implemented in November 2014 following a nationwide National Park Service review of fees. No other entrance or campground fees will change this year.
The funds generated by fees are used for projects that enhance visitor services and facilities, including interpretive programs at campgrounds, the backcountry campsite reservation program, repair and restoration of trails, restoration of wildlife habitat, improvement and replacement of restroom facilities, preservation and maintenance of roads, and shuttle bus operation and maintenance. To learn more about the types of projects funded with user fees, please visit: https://www.nps.gov/glac/learn/management/yourdollarsatwork.htm.
Chief Mountain: Home of the Thunderbird – Physical, Historical, and Spiritual Perspectives, by Dave Shea, Thomas Printing, 2010, Second Edition, 42pp, photographs, maps, charts
Backcountry ranger, wildlife biologist and botanist Dave Shea worked in Glacier National Park for almost four decades, spending many years at the Belly River Ranger station in the shadow of Chief Mountain. Shea writes that those who have seen that shadow in the valley in March and September call it “the sacred shadow.”
This tightly written, encyclopedic book shows that Shea has come to understand the rock, natural forces, legends and people behind that shadow very well. Without a doubt, Chief Mountain (Nináistuko) is the one of the most distinctive, visible and photographed peaks in Montana.
While Glacier specialists and friends of the park will have seen most of the geological information in the first part of the volume elsewhere, the book is an able summary of Chief’s setting within the Rocky Mountain Front as well as its importance and current status as a sacred site to the Blackfeet Nation. In addition to the spectacular cover photo by B. Riley McClelland, the author’s photographs are a beautiful addition to the book.
From the Publisher
For 36 years, Dave Shea prowled Glacier Park’s wilds as a backcountry ranger, patrolling trails, managing wildlife, leading search and rescue efforts. And for 11 of those years, he and his wife, Genevieve, lived, quite literally, in the shadow of Montana’s most sacred mountain. And so it’s appropriate, perhaps, that when Dave Shea set out to put the peak on the page, he did so in what could be described, in terms of size, as a booklet, but in scope is most decidedly a full-blown book.
“It’s clear Chief has become a character in Shea’s life, a fully animated wonder complete with presence and with moods and with attitude,” writes Michael Jamison in the Missoulian. “In a cave, near the summit, lives Thunderbird and the Thunder-Maker Pipe. The Wind Spirit resides here, as does Old Man Napi. The Sacred Shadow reaches far into the backbone, and each spring and autumn darkens other peaks with the outline of the Chief.”
Shea, described by the Missolian as “one of Glacier Park’s last old-school patrol rangers – a man competent and comfortable and completely content in the backcountry,” is also the author of the NPS field checklists “Mammals of Glacier National Park” and “Birds of Glacier National Park.”
Malcolm R. Campbell, a seasonal employee at Many Glacier Hotel in the park in 1960s, is the author of contemporary fantasy novels including “The Seeker.” “The Seeker” is partially set in Glacier during the historic flood of 1964.
I have been a member of the Montana Historical Society for at least 25 years even though I live in Georgia. Why? I fell in love with the state after working two summers in Glacier National Park. Since the state’s history and environment fascinate me, I look forward to each new issue of the Society’s award winning Montana The Magazine of Western History.
The places where my novels are set always figure strongly into their plots and themes. Much has been written about the Rocky Mountains and Glacier National Park. I try to keep up so I can make my descriptions as accurate as possible and to ensure that my plots are viable within those settings. Even though I don’t write historical novels, I also feel that knowing the history of an area adds to my understanding of a state or region and enriches my storytelling.
Unlike many of our high school and college history classes that focused a great deal on remembering dates, reading the articles and reviews in a historical magazine is a joyful experience. There’s no pressure to take notes and/or to guess which five facts will be on a pop quiz or the final exam. In the Summer 2012 issue of Montana The Magazine of Western History, the lead article “The End of Freedom: The Military Removal of the Blackfeet and Reservation Confinement, 1880” by William E. Farr features the Indian reservation on the east side of Glacier National Park.
One can hardly visit Glacier without learning about the tribe’s association with the park. If you reach the park by car or train from the east, you’ll pass through the Blackfeet reservation. This well-written article definitely increases my sense of place and the people who are important there.
As a writer, I want to know what I’m writing about—in depth. Obscure facts come to mind long after I read an article and influence plot development in ways I can never predict when each issue of the magazine arrives. My membership in the Montana Historical Society has, I think, been an important component in shaping my three novels set partly within the state: The Sun Singer, Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey, and my recent contemporary fantasy, Sarabande. I always hope that readers, especially those who live in the places I write about, will think that I live there, once lived there, or have spent a great deal of time seeing the sights on multiple vacation trips.
Most states have state, county and local historical societies, tourism departments, and preservation groups that are worth their weight in gold for writers who see place almost like another character in each story.
Table of Contents – Current Issue
The End of Freedom: THE MILITARY REMOVAL OF THE BLACKFEET AND RESERVATION CONFINEMENT, 1880, by William E. Farr
Protest, Power, and the Pit: FIGHTING OPEN-PIT MINING IN BUTTE, MONTANA, by Brian Leech
Breaking Racial Barriers: ‘EVERYONE’S WELCOME’ AT THE OZARK CLUB, GREAT FALLS, MONTANA’S AFRICAN AMERICAN NIGHTCLUB, by Ken Robison
Building Permanent and Substantial Roads: PRISON LABOR ON MONTANA’S HIGHWAYS, 1910–1925, Jon Axline
Signs of the Times: THE MONTANA HISTORICAL SOCIETY’S NATIONAL REGISTER SIGN PROGRAM, by Ellen Baumler
REVIEWS: Jiusto and Brown, Hand Raised, reviewed by Jon T. Kilpinen / Hedren, After Custer, reviewed by James N. Leiker / Courtwright, Prairie Fire, reviewed by Sarah Keyes / Schackel, Working the Land, reviewed by Susanne George Bloomfield / Wood, Hunt Jr., and Williams, Fort Clark and Its Indian Neighbors, reviewed by Steven Reidburn / Pasco, Helen Ring Robinson, reviewed by Alexandra M. Nickliss / Flint and Flint, eds., The Latest Word from 1540, reviewed by Thomas Merlan / Harvey, Rainbow Bridge to Monument Valley, reviewed by Lawrence Culver
For me, such articles grab my attention like a page-turner novel. Since the reading is fun, I tend to remember it later on when I’m telling another story about the state.
About 5 miles south of the Canadian border, his grandmother nudged him awake.
“Nináistko,” she said, pointing to an imposing limestone monolith, thrust like the broken end of a giant’s club into a rolling ridge on the eastern edge of the mountain range.
“I don’t like it grandma,” he told her.
She pinched the back of his neck.
“Kyiopok, my little bear cub,” she whispered, “since I heard no spirits asking for your opinion, that mountain is where you must go. You must cry for your vision and find your great love.” –Garden of Heaven
The 9,080-foot Chief Mountain in Montana sits on the border of Glacier National Park and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Sacred to the Blackfeet, the mountain is a prominent landmark for tourists and others traveling betweeen Alberta and Montana on State Road 17.
Directions and Location
From a car, the east face of Chief Mountain can be easily viewed thirteen miles north of Babb, Montana about five and a half miles south of the Canadian border.
If you’re visiting the park by car, head north out of Babb on U. S. 89, and then about four miles out, bear to your left onto MT 17. This road is also known as the Blackfeet Highway and the Chief Mountain International Highway.
You can also see Chief Mountain by taking one of the park’s red buses between Many Glacier Hotel and the Prince of Wales Hotel at Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta.
Chief Mountain, known as a klippe, or rootless mountain, was reported by Peter Fidler of the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1792 and by Meriwether Lewis in 1805. Early explorers were told that Flathead, Kootenai and Blackfeet used the mountain for vision quests.
When Henry L. Stimson climbed Chief Mountain in 1892, he reportedly found the remnants of an old buffalo skull said to have been left there by a Native American on a vision quest. Billy Fox (the man’s exact name is disputed), who climbed with Stimson, called the skull “the old Flathead’s pillow.”
In my novel The Sun Singer, Robert Adams climbs this mountain in an alternate universe where it is named The Guardian. In Garden of Heaven, David Ward climbs this mountain, referring to it by its ancient Blackfeet name Nináistko. Both Adams and Ward climb the mountain for vision quests.
Both of them follow the East Face Route, described as “for experienced and patient rock climbers only” by Gordon Edwards in his widely known reference A Climber’s Guide to Glacier National Park. If you don’t have Edward’s book, Summit Post has basic climber’s information for Chief Mountain, including routes.
According to Jack Holterman, in his Place Names of Glacier/Waterton National Parks, the name “is both the name of the mountain and a personal and family name.” Nináistko (the Blackfeet name of Mountain Chief) was a prominent leader. His portrait was painted by artist George Catlin in 1832.
Chief Mountain is a pillar of Precambrian belt rock that was pushed some fifty miles east along the Lewis thrust fault. The fault itself can be seen in multiple locations throughout the park, perhaps most easily near Many Glacier Hotel. Chief, then, is an example of older rock sitting on top of the younger Cretaceous rock. The mountain displays good examples of Altyn limestone and Appekuny mudstone, two of the park’s more noticeable formations on the east side.
The Lewis Overthrust occurred 60 to 100 million years ago. While it’s fun to envision the mountains racing east as though they were on a roller coaster, the rock moved slowly over a long period of time; had there been a man to stand there and watch, he might not have noticed anything.
Personally, I like the Blackfeet story, as I note it in Garden of Heaven: Many said the great rocks that formed the backbone of the world were piled one upon the other and sculpted into shining mountains by Nápi, the Old Man who created the world from a ball of mud fetched up from the depths of the dark primordial waters by Muskrat.
A climber standing on the summit of Chief Mountain will be struck by the fact that the mountains of the Rocky Mountain front come to rather an abrupt end there they meet the plains. Westward, you’ll see Mount Merritt and Mount Cleveland. Slide Lake sits just southwest of Chief, and then farther away, Mount St. Nicholas, Red Eagle and Going to the Sun.
Eastward past the highway, you’re looking into the land of the Blackfeet Nation. On the horizon are the three main buttes of the so-called Sweetgrass Hills. According to legend, Nápi flung them out there. Geologists refer to them as island mountains.
A more accurate name would be Hills of Sweet Pines, the actual translation of the Blackfeet name Kâtoyísix. Unfortunately, the name “Sweet Grass” was inaccurately applied and is now pretty much engraved in stone.
Early British maps called Chief Mountain “Kings Mountain.” Lewis called it “Tower Mountain.” For awhile, it was called Kaiser Mountain, probably after freight-hauler Lee Kaiser. The official name, comes from the Blackfeet Mountain of the Chief, or Old Chief.
In their book Waterton and Glacier in a Snap, Ray Djuff and Chris Morrison write that they believe “the best view of this impressive mountain, which resembles a chief’s head looking at the sky, can be had from Alberta.” About that, they just might be right.
As the 2010 centennial of Montana’s Glacier National Park approaches, I’ve been looking at the histories and stories of those who are part of the park’s heritage.
Helen Piotopowaka Clarke (1843-1923)–known by many as “Miss Nellie”–was the first woman in the Montana Territory to be elected to public office (1880) when she became Superintendent of Public Instruction for the county now named Lewis and Clark. Previously, she had worked as a teacher in Ft. Benton.
After the Indian Allotment Act was passed by Congress in 1887, Clarke, helped the Blackfeet establish their allotments, and then was appointed as an allotment agent by President Benjamin Harrison in October 1890. She worked with multiple tribes out of the Ponca Agency in the Oklahoma Territory where she was the only female agent.
When prospectors and developers found gold, copper and other minerals on the Piegans’ mountain land in the years after the Civil War, public pressure forced the Federal Government into negotiations to obtain the land so that legal claims could be filed and worked. Helen helped her tribe in the negotiations that eventually led to the sale of the land east of the continental divide in today’s Glacier National Park in 1896. The boom–which included a mining town named Altyn in the current park’s Swiftcurrent Valley–lasted only a few years before it was obvious that the mineral deposits were insufficient to support mining operations. This mountain land has historically been called the ceded strip. The park was created in 1910.
Helen’s parents were a Scottish-American fur trader and rancher Egbert Malcolm Clarke and Kakokima (often spelled Cothcocoma), daughter of the Piegan (Blackfeet) Chief Big Snake. Malcolm Clarke had an excellent relationship with the Piegan in spite of the growing hostilities between whites and the Piegan at the time. His Piegan name was Nisohkyaiyo (Four Bears). In addition to Helen, he and Kakokima had three other children, Horace, Nathan and Isabel.
Helen P. Clarke’s name often surfaces in history as a survivor of the night when Piegan relatives murdered her father and wounded her brother Horace after weeks of disputes over Malcolm Clarke’s stolen horses. The Piegan side of Helen’s family had always been welcome on her father’s ranch on Prickly Pear Creek along with others from the tribe; most of the tribe mourned his murder. Helen blamed only Eagle Ribs (who killed Clarke) and Pete Owl Child (who wounded Horace). Owl Child was Helen’s mother’s cousin and Eagle Ribs was a son of Mountain Chief.
The public saw Clarke’s murder as another in a long series of incidents of unacceptable unrest in the territory and demanded retribution against the overtly hostile Mountain Chief. While a grand jury had indicted five Piegans in the murder of Malcolm Clarke and had requested their apprehension by the Army, General Philip H. Sheridan preferred to “strike” Indian Camps. William T Sherman, General of the Army, approved of Sheridan’s approach even though officers in Montana said the solution required a police-style approach.
Colonel E. M. Baker was sent with a troop to “chastise” Mountain Chief and his band of Piegans. The orders stated specifically that friendly Chief Heavy Runner and his band on the Marias River was not to be harmed. On the morning of January 23, 1870, Baker’s troop swept through the village of Heavy Runner, killing the Chief and 173 others, including 140 women and children. Even though he was told by his scouts it was the wrong camp, Baker would maintain later that he did not know this. Baker’s superiors supported his action. The action is now known alternately as “The Baker Massacre” and “The Marias Massacre.”
After the death of her father, Helen went east where she studied drama. Subsequently, she would perform for a short period of time to much acclaim, especially her Shakespeare, in London, Paris and Berlin. After serving as the school superintendent and the allotment agent, she taught briefly in San Francisco before returning to a ranch with her bother Horace in Midvale (now East Glacier) on land that came from their allotments.
Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier, sits on a portion of Horace’s allotment which was purchased by the Great Northern Railway for the hotel site. The Hotel was built in 1913.
Although the source of Glacier National Park’s Lake Helen is debated, explorer, writer and friend of the Piegan Jame Willard Schultz attributes the name to Helen Clarke.
Author Jack Holterman has written that when Miss Nellie was in her 70s, she was described as a woman with a large bony, stooped frame, black sparkling eyes, beautiful white hair, and a deep theatrical voice. She is buried in the family cemetery at Midvale.
Today, more people know of her for her father’s murder than for her own good works. Helen’s Piegan name, Piotopowaka, is certainly apt. It is best translated as “The Bird That Comes Back.”
For More Information, consult the following books in addition to Internet resources:
Who was Who in Glacier Land, by Jack Holterman Walking in Two Worlds: Mixed-Blood Indian Women Seeking Their Own Path, by Nancy M. Peterson The Blackfeet: Raiders on the Northwestern Plains, by John C. Ewers
Copyright (c) 2009 by Malcolm R. Campbell author of “The Sun Singer,” a novel set in Glacier National Park.