Difference between revisions of "Gros Ventre Indians"

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Revision as of 01:32, 29 April 2011

To get started in American Indian Research

Indians of Montana Grosventre Indians

Alternate Names: A-A-Ni-Nin, Gros Ventre, Gros Ventres

{{#if: Arapaho, Cree, Assiniboin|
Gros Ventre Indian- Assiniboin Boy byEdward S Curtis Collection People.jpg
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Regions with significant populations
Ancestral Homelands: Milk River branch of the Missouri River in northern Montana; they also migrated into Saskatchewan

Fort Belknap Reservation in Montana.


Federally recognized

Linguistic Group


Cultural Group


Other Related Ethnic Groups

Arapaho, Cree, Assiniboin

Tribal Headquarters

Fort Belknap Indian Community
RR1, Box 66
101 Tribal Way
Harlem, MT 59526
Phone: 1-406-353-2205
Fax: 1-406-353-4541
Official Website: www.ftbelknap-nsn.gov


The Grosventre separated from the Arapaho in the mid 1650's. Part of the tribe went to Canada and settled new Eagle Hills.

The tribe had early trade relations with the Cree Indians. The earliest recorded contact with non-Indians occurred in 1754.

In the 1780's and 1790 the tribe migrated to the Upper Missouri River. In so doing they encroached on the Crow Indians and came into conflict with the Cree and Assiniboin. They sought alliance with the Blackfeet Indians. The inter-tribal conflict led to 400 Grosventre Indians being killed by the Cree and Assiniboin in 1835 at Sweetgrass Hill.

A Treaty was signed in 1855 with the U.S. Government, at the mouth of Judith River, in the Territory of Nebraska, with the Grosventres, Blackfoot, Piegan, Blood, Flathead, and Nez Perce, which established a common hunting ground.

In the 1860s, inter-tribal conflicts caused war, and the tribe joined forces with the Crow to defeat the Blackfeet, who were once their allies. The tribe suffered a major loss to the Piegan Indians.

Fort Belknap was built about 1871 to provide a place for the Grosventres to receive their annuities and other supplies. While it was discontinued for two years from 1876 to 1878, it was re-established in the latter year.

St. Paul's (Catholic) Mission was established in 1887.

In 1888, the Fort Belknap Reservation was established and the Grosventre Tribe was placed on it, along with some of the Assiniboin.

The Grosventres adopted their By-Laws in June 1936 as part of the Three Affiliated Tribes, under the Indian Reorganization Act.

Brief Timeline

  • 1650: the Grosventre separated from the Arapaho and moved northwest, to Eagle Hills in Saskatchewan, Canada
  • 1700: The tribe traded with the Cree
  • 1780: smallpox epidemic
  • 1780: The tribe migrated south to Upper Missouri River; by doing so they encroached on the Crow. Sought alliance with the Blackfeet.
  • 1790: tribal problems with the Cree and Assiniboin
  • 1824-66: The tribe was under the jurisdiction of the Upper Missouri Agency
  • 1835: 400 Grosventre killed by Cree and Assiniboin at Sweetgrass Hill
  • 1851 September 17, Fort Laramie in Indian Territory,with Sioux, Grosventre, Assiniboin, Blackfeet, Crow, Dakota, Cheyenne, Arapho,and Mandan
  • 1855 October 17, with the Blackfeet
  • 1866 July 27, Agreement at Fort Berthold-unratified
  • 1855-69: The tribe was under the jurisdiction of the Blackfeet Agency
  • 1864-80: The tribe was under the jurisdiction of the Montana Superintendency
  • 1866: Treaty
  • 1867-80: the tribe was under the jurisdiction of the Fort Berthold Agency
  • 1867: suffered a major losses by Piegan
  • 1888: Placed on the Fort Belknap Reservation in northern Montana; the Assiniboin also came to the Fort Belknap Reservation.
  • 1896: The Grosventre and Assiniboin coerced to sell land by government (gold had been discovered in area known as Little Rockies.)

Additional References to the History of the Tribe and/or Band


The primary reservation for the Grosventre Indians is the Fort Belknap Reservation, which they share with the Assiniboin.



The following agencies of the Bureau of Indian Affairs had jurisdiction over the Grosventre for the time periods indicated. BIA agencies were responsible to keep such records as census rolls, allotment (land) records, annuity rolls, school records, correspondence, and other records of individual Indians under their jurisdiction. For details, see the page for the respective agency.


Montana Superintendency

St. Louis Superintendency

Central Superintendency

Washington Superintendency

Dakota Superintendency

Idaho Superintendency

Census Records

The Bureau of Indian Affairs compiled annual Indian Census Rolls on many of the reservations from 1885 to 1940. They list the names of individuals, their age, and other details about each person enumerated. For more information about these records, click here.

The following table lists the census rolls for the Grosventre Indians:

Agency Location of Original Records

Post-1885 Census

M595 RG 75 -- 692 Rolls 

Roll Numbers


Film Numbers

Fort Belknap, 1885-1939 Seattle 126-131 FHL Films 576481-576486

Correspondence Records

There are several sets of correspondence between the supervising offices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the local offices -- agencies, subagencies, etc. The correspondence is often historical in nature, including reports of the conditions among local groups of Indians, hostilities, plans for building facilities, activities of traders or missionaries, etc. Occasionally, there will be names of individuals but little detail about them. For more information about American Indian correspondence, click here.

The following table lists some correspondence relating to the Grosventre Indians:

Agency Location of Original Records


M234 RG 75 -- 962 Rolls

Roll Numbers




Upper Missouri, 1824-66 Washington D.C. 883-888 -
Montana Superintendency 1864-80 Washington D.C. 488-518 -
Fort Berthold, 1867-80 Denver, Kansas City, Seattle 292-299 -


During the latter part of the 18th Century and most of the 19th Century, treaties were negotiated between the federal government and individual Indian tribes. The treaties provide helpful information about the history of the tribe, but usually only include the names of those persons who signed the treaty. For more information about treaties, click here.

Treaties to which the Grosventre Indians were a part were:

  • 1851September 17, Fort Laramie in Indian Territory,with Sioux, Grosventre, Assiniboin, Blackfeet, Crow, Dakota, Cheyenne, Arapho Manda
  • 1855October 17, with the Blackfeet
  • 1866 July 27, Agreement at Fort Berthold-unratified

Tribal Office Records

The Tribal Office is responsible for enrollment records, vital records, tribal police records, tribal court records, employment records and many others. They are an entirely different set of records from those kept by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Most of them remain in the Tribal Office. For details, contact that office at the address for the Tribal Headquarters listed above.

Vital Records

Prior to the Indian Reorganization Act, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, through their agencies, may have recorded some vital events. Some were recorded on health forms, such as the "Sanitary Record of Sick, Injured, Births, Deaths, etc." Others were recorded as supplements to the "Indian Census Rolls." Some were included in the unindexed reports and other correspondence of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Some vital records for the Grosventre Indians include:

Important Web Sites




  • Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives; Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  • Hodge, Frederick Webb. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1906 Available online.
  • Klein, Barry T., ed. Reference Encyclopedia of the American Indian. Nyack, New York: Todd Publications, 2009. 10th ed. WorldCat 317923332; FHL book 970.1 R259e.
  • Malinowski, Sharon and Sheets, Anna, eds. The Gale Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes. Detroit: Gale Publishing, 1998. 4 volumes. Includes: Lists of Federally Recognized Tribes for U.S., Alaska, and Canada – pp. 513-529 Alphabetical Listing of Tribes, with reference to volume and page in this series Map of “Historic Locations of U.S. Native Groups” Map of “Historic Locations of Canadian Native Groups” Map of “Historic Locations of Mexican, Hawaiian and Caribbean Native Groups” Maps of “State and Federally Recognized U.S. Indian Reservations. WorldCat 37475188; FHL book 970.1 G131g.
Vol. 1 -- Northeast, Southeast, Caribbean
Vol. 2 -- Great Basin, Southwest, Middle America
Vol. 3 -- Arctic, Subarctic, Great Plains, Plateau
Vol. 4 -- California, Pacific Northwest, Pacific Islands
  • Sturtevant, William C. Handbook of North American Indians. 20 vols., some not yet published. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1978– .
Volume 1 -- Not yet published
Volume 2 -- Indians in Contemporary Society (pub. 2008) -- WorldCat 234303751
Volume 3 -- Environment, Origins, and Population (pub. 2006) -- WorldCat 255572371
Volume 4 -- History of Indian-White Relations (pub. 1988) -- WorldCat 19331914; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.4.
Volume 5 -- Arctic (pub. 1984) -- WorldCat 299653808; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.5.
Volume 6 -- Subarctic (pub. 1981) -- WorldCat 247493742; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.6.
Volume 7 -- Northwest Coast (pub. 1990) -- WorldCat 247493311
Volume 8 -- California (pub. 1978) -- WorldCat 13240086; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.8.
Volume 9 -- Southwest (pub. 1979) -- WorldCat 26140053; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.9.
Volume 10 -- Southwest (pub. 1983) -- WorldCat 301504096; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.10.
Volume 11 -- Great Basin (pub. 1986) -- WorldCat 256516416; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.11.
Volume 12 -- Plateau (pub. 1998) -- WorldCat 39401371; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.12.
Volume 13 -- Plains, 2 vols. (pub. 2001) -- WorldCat 48209643
Volume 14 -- Southeast (pub. 2004) -- WorldCat 254277176
Volume 15 -- Northwest (pub. 1978) -- WorldCat 356517503; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.15.
Volume 16 -- Not yet published
Volume 17 -- Languages (pub. 1996) -- WorldCat 43957746
Volume 18 -- Not yet published
Volume 19 -- Not yet published
Volume 20 -- Not yet published