Wolf Calf -- Alleged Witness

W olf Calf may have been one of the eight Piegan Indians encountered by Captain Lewis, Joseph and Reubin Field, and George Drouillard, on Flag Butte above the Two Medicine River, on July 26, 1806. This photo was taken when Wolf Calf was about 102 years old. He told anthropologist George Bird Grinnell that he was with the war party that met the first two white men ever seen in the lower Blackfeet country. Their meeting was friendly at first, he said, but their chief told the rest to try to steal some of their things, which resulted in the death of a young man named Side Hill Calf.1

Historians once assumed that this regrettable encounter was the basis of later Blackfeet animosity toward white traders, but it now seems more likely it was Lewis's innocent remark to the Piegan youths that he had promised guns to certain tribes who were the Piegans' longtime enemies.

1. Olin D. Wheeler, The Trail of Lewis & Clark, 1804-1904, 2 vols. (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1904), 2:311-313.