Old Agency, 1880-1894

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Browning 59417,Great Falls Area

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Historical Markers/Interpretive SignHistoric Sites
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Location: Hwy 89 south of Browning

The second Indian Agency on the Blackfeet Reservation was built at Old Agency in 1879. Agent John Young moved the buildings from Upper Badger Creek with help from the Blackfeet Indians. Both men and women dug cellars, hauled stone and mixed mortar. The women covered the exterior with lime from Heart Butte. Buil in stockade shape, the Agency had two bastions at diagonal corners to protect against enemy attack. The Indians called it “Old Ration Place” after the government began issuing rations. The “Starvation Winter” of 1883-1884 took the lives of about 500 Blackfeet Indians who had been camping in the vicinity of Old Agency. This tragic event was the result of an inadequate supply of government rations during an exceptionally hard winter. In 1894, after the Great Northern Railway had extended its tracks across the Reservation, the Agency moved to Willow Creek at the present site in Browning. Today, the Museum of the Plains Indian in Browning houses a fine collection of artifacts that illustrate Blackfeet culture before and after the establishment of the Reservation.

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