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Otter Creek Homesteaders

Otter Creek flows north into Montana out of the highlands in Wyoming and empties into the Tongue River at Ashland. Capt. Calvin Howes developed one of the earliest ranches on Otter Creek. He arrived in Montana in the early 1880’s and established the Circle Bar O Ranch on the lower Powder River. In 1884, Captain Howes drove 2,000 head of cattle from Texas to Otter Creek and maintained a successful cattle operation that survived the disastrous winter of 1886-87. The Creek’s naming is attributed to Howes. In total there were 50 families, 246 people on Otter Creek/Tongue River – Little Chief’s band has 20 families with 101 people. In a letter dated August 18, 1882 from George Yoakum to Pres. Arthur he states that Chief White Bull’s band has settled along the Tongue River and some have built houses. He also states that some of Little Chief’s band visited the Cheyenne in August, 1882 and now want to settle in the Tongue River valley. In a report dated October 3, 1882 from Capt. Ewers, 5th Infantry, Ft. Keogh, MT to the Asst. Adj. General, Dept. of Dakota, he states there are 10 houses, nearly completed, on or near the mouth of Otter Creek, and “so situated so each would have 160 acres”. NameMenWomenBoysGirlsPoniesCattleWagonHidesCabinComments Bob Tail Horse11418 miles south of Otter Creek. House not finished. Hollow Log1348 miles south of Otter Creek. Little Chief's Band. White Frog1215Little Chief's Band White Bull14725121Medicine Man Tangles Horn Elk2214415 Gray Whisker111141 Buffalo Wallow (female)227104 Bear Skins Red Plume2226251Little Chief's Band Tall White Man (1)213321Father / Son Tall White Man (2)1144Father / Son Whitw Hawk1221251...

Tongue River Homesteaders

In January 1881, all of the Northern Cheyenne that were sent to Fort Keogh were eventually allowed to move south and take homesteads near the Tongue River and on Rosebud and Muddy Creeks under the Indian Homestead Act of 1875. However, in 1900, the Northern Cheyenne families were removed or agreed to move under duress off of their private or individual holdings on which the Army under General Miles’ command had helped them settle and placed on the newly expanded reservation. In 1884 the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation was created on unsurveyed lands north of Tongue River. The Reservation boundaries excluded 46 Northern Cheyenne families who had been encouraged to homestead along the east bank of the Tongue River and along Otter Creek. At the same time, 46 white homesteads, both legal and illegal, had been established within the boundaries of the Reservation. In 1901, the white settlers on the newly expanded reservation lands in the Tongue River valley were ordered to leave. The Federal government paid the 46 white settlers $150,445 for their “improvements” (buildings etc.) on the west side of the Tongue River and compensated the 46 Cheyenne families with only $1,150 for their homesteads on the east side. Descendants of these families argue that because the government never paid fair value for these homesteads and that they were promised the chance to return, they still have claims to this land. In a letter from George Yoakum to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, dated October 20 1882, he states that nearly all of Little Chief’s Band have arrived and are on the Tongue River, intending to take...

The Northern Cheyenne Reservation

This report has been prepared by the Northern Cheyenne Tribe under contract with the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”). The BLM was in the process of amending the Powder River and Billings Area Resource Management Plans to address large-scale development of coal-bed methane (“CBM”) resources in southeastern Montana, including lands in the vicinity of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. The purpose of the report is to characterize those aspects of the Reservation environment and resources, social, economic, cultural and physical, which have the potential to be affected by CBM and other energy development on adjacent lands. By identifying lands, resources and services which are likely to be vulnerable to impacts, the report is intended to assist BLM in meeting its trust obligations to prevent and/or mitigate the impacts of off-Reservation development on the Tribe and its Reservation.

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