Chippewa Cree (North Central Montana)

Eagle Butte in the Bears Paw Mountains

(Eagle Butte in the Bears Paw Mountains)

The Place

Circle 4 represents ecoregions on the 128,000 acre Rocky Boy reservation.  This beautiful area in North-Central Monatana is mostly bottomlands and prairies except for the majestic Bears Paw Mountains.  The Rocky Boy is the youngest reservation, established September 7, 1916, and also the smallest of the reservations in Montana.

Chippewa Cree Pow-wow

(Chippewa Cree Pow-wow)

The People

The Rocky Boy reservation's name comes from a translation of the name of Chippewa leader, Asiniiwin.  The name translates to "Stone Child." Both the Chippewa and Cree tribes live on the Rocky Boy reservation.  Historically, the Chippewa, also referred to as the Ojibwe, migrated westward from the Midwestern United States the and arrived in Montana sometime between 1885 and 1892. The Cree tribe primarily called Canada home but considered Montana an important part of their homelands and frequently hunted along the borders of Montana and North Dakota.

The Plants

Pussy Toes (Antennaria microphylla): 

Antennaria microphylla

Pussy Toes can be brewed into a tea and drank after childbirth to prevent illness. It is also used to cure rattlesnake bites and treat coughs. The pleasant flavor also made this plant popular as a chewing gum.

Wild Mint (Mentha arvensis): 

Mentha arvensis

Wild Mint is used to relieve gas and prevent vomiting. It is also used to to strengthen heart muscles, stimulate vital organs, and to treat headaches, colds, coughs and fevers. It is usually brewed into a tea and consumed.

Small Camas (Camassia quamash):

Camassia quamash

This plant is used to aid women during child birth. A bread and cake can be made from Camas and the bulbs are usually boiled for soup, cooked with meat, and roasted to be eaten on their own.

Rocky Mountain Iris (Iris missouriensis):

Image of Rocky Mountain Iris

The Chippewa Cree use the Rocky Mountain Iris as an external application for skin problems. The pulped root is placed in the tooth cavity or on the gum in order to bring relief from toothaches. The root is also used in ear drops to treat earaches. When the root is mashed, it is applied to rheumatic joints. Rocky Mountain Iris is thought to be poisonous.   

Hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii)

Image of Hawthorn

Hawthorn berries are eaten to strengthen the heart, and to thin the blood. The bark is used as an anti-inflammatory, and alleviates digestive ails. The wood is fashioned into diggings sticks and handles for tools. The Bark and shoots are burned and mixed with ashes and grease to create face paint.

Species List:

  • Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa
  • Idaho Fescue (Festuca idahoensis)
  • Needle and Thread grass (Stipa comata)
  • Pussy Toes (Antennaria microphylla)
  • Rocky Mountain Iris (Iris missouriensis)
  • Small Camas (Camassia quamash)
  • Wild Mint (Mentha arvensis)