This chapter demonstrates how tensions escalated between Blackfoot people and newcomers between 1861 and 1870. The Montana Gold Rush, increased settlement, the U.S. Civil War, and the collapse of the fur trade narrowed Blackfoot avenues for diplomacy during the early 1860s. In the late 1860s these escalating tensions exploded into open conflict in what had recently become Montana Territory, culminating in the U.S. Army’s massacre of an entire Piikani band in 1870, known as the Marias Massacre. The massacre, coupled with a devastating smallpox outbreak and settler pressure, devastated Blackfoot people’s ability to resist American expansion. By the 1870s, Blackfoot people in Montana faced little choice but to settle on a shrinking reservation or flee across the border to Canada.
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