Bozeman’s Turbulent Past

Today, Bozeman may be an ideal Montana community, but the town’s atmosphere hasn’t always been so idyllic.

The first few years following the town’s establishment brought conflict with nearby Native American tribes. Although white settlers tended to exaggerate Indian threats across the expanding West, Bozeman’s fears were justified with the presence of a neighboring band of Blackfeet. Recognized for animosity against whites who moved into their territory, the Blackfeet fought against Bozeman’s founding, hoping to force settlers further west while detracting future white men from the area. On April 27, 1868, a Blackfeet war party rode into Bozeman in the middle of the night, raiding the community and escaping with fifteen stolen horses. The raids continued throughout the late 1860s, and military action was summoned to distill resident fears. As a result of the military influence, more than 170 innocent Piegan Indians were slaughtered in January 1870 while the true culprits escaped justice.