Year of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Fine Arts (Integrated Arts and Education)
Department or School/College
Creative Pulse Program
James D. Kriley, Rick Hughes
Charlie Russell, Chief Rocky Boy, Chippewas, Crees, Frank Linderman, Montana History, Montana Indians, Ojibwes, Rocky Boy Reservation, William Bowles
University of Montana
Well-Off-Man, John, M.A., November 2007 Fine Arts, Integrated Arts and Education The History of Chief Rocky Boy and His Band And The Founding of Rocky Boy Reservation Chairperson: Dr. Randy Bolton The history of Chief Rocky Boy including his birth place is still a mystery for historians and the United States government. However, the one known fact about Ojibwes, also known as Chippewas, is their belief in prophecies. A prophecy that began at the East Coast urged the Ojibwes’ westward migration. Chief Rocky Boy and his band continued west from Wisconsin into what is now Montana. They arrived in Montana between 1885 and 1892. Their nomadic life led to campsites at Garrison, Missoula, Butte, Wolf Point, Havre, Deer Lodge, Anaconda, Helena, the Flathead and the Blackfeet Reservation. They endured homelessness, unspeakable hardship, and racial discrimination from Indians and non-Indians alike. Ojibwe elders conducted pipe ceremonies and prayed for a place where they can practice their religion and preserve their stories. In 1885, Little Bear’s band of Canadian Cree fled to Montana to escape Canadian justice after their role in the Frog Lake Massacre. Although they were deported in the summer of 1896 they returned to Montana, and eventually, Little Bear decides to follow Rocky Boy and his band. In 1902, Rocky Boy dictated a letter to President Theodore Roosevelt asking him to establish a reservation for his band. A bill of 1904 to provide a home for Rocky Boy’s Chippewa did not pass. Five years later Rocky Boy’s band was loaded into boxcars and transported to the Blackfeet Reservation. The unsuitable area they were assigned to and the living conditions under Indian agent Arthur Mcfatridge led them to leave. Although guards surrounded their camp the Ojibwes managed to escape. In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill into law to set aside land for Rocky Boy’s band and other homeless Indians. According to tribal history pipe ceremonies played a major role in the development of the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation. Several civic leaders, including Frank Linderman, Charlie Russell and William Boles helped Rocky Boy to secure land for his people. Today Rocky Boy Reservation is home to new generations of Ojibwes and Crees. The story of Rocky Boy will be the subject matter of my documentary film. During my writing of his story I was inspired by Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. I used original sources such as legislative bills as well as secondary sources like publications on Montana history. However, I found the most important source was traditional Ojibwe oral history, passed on to me by my brother Duncan Standing Rock.
Well-Off-Man, John Phillip, "The History of Chief Rocky Boy and His Band and The Founding of Rocky Boy Reservation" (2007). Graduate Student Theses, Dissertations, & Professional Papers. 1238.
© Copyright 2007 John Phillip Well-Off-Man