Medicine Tree Historical Marker


Darby 59829,Southwest Montana,Ravalli County

Map Location

Historical Markers/Interpretive SignHistoric Sites
General info

This Ponderosa Pine has been standing guard here on the bend of the river for nearly 400 years. Somewhere, embedded in its trunk, a few feet above the ground, is the horn of a Big Horn Ram, the basis of a legend which across the centuries has established the historical significance of the pine as a Medicine Tree.

Once upon a time, when the tree was small, according to Salish Indian lore, a mountain sheep of giant stature and with massive, curling horns, accepting a challenge from his hereditary enemy, Old Man Coyote, attempted to butt it down. The little pine stood firm, but one of the ram’s horns caught in the bole, impaling the luckless sheep, causing his death. A Salish war party chased the coyote away from his anticipated feast and then hung offerings of beads, cloth, ribbon, and other items on the ram’s horns as good medicine tokens to his bravery, and to free the scene of evil.

Countless succeeding Indian tribes followed the practice until, less than 100 years ago, the horn disappeared within the tree. But the Indians continue to regard it as a shrine and even the white men honor its sacred legend.

About Us

Our mission is to provide the most comprehensive information site for the state of Montana. We welcome public input and comments.


1627 W. Main #447
Bozeman, MT 59715

Contact Us

Created with love by New Times Media Corporation

We're New Times Media - a friendly and fun group of people. At New Times Media we love to share anything and everything we know about the great state of Montana, so we created this site to make learning about our state as easy as possible. Our site is free to use and has the simplest possible user interface.

Privacy policy:

We use Google Analytics for site usage analytics. Your IP address is saved on our web server, but it's not associated with any personally identifiable information. We want you to enjoy and benefit from our site without worrying about who is tracking you (OK, so Google might track you, but that’s not us!)

Terms of service: the legal stuff

By using our site you agree to our Terms of service. TLDR: You don't need an account to use our site. Our site is free of charge and you can use it as much as you want. You need an account if you wish to list your business or control your business information. You can't do illegal or shady things with a business listing on our site. We may block your access to your page(s), if we find out you're doing something bad. Share anything you see, but don’t use our stuff for your own use without permission from us. We’re not liable for your actions and we offer no warranty. We may revise our terms at any time.