Between 1870 and 1875, hundreds of Blackfoot Indians died as a result of the whisky trade, either killed in drunken quarrels, shot by whisky traders, frozen to death while drunk, or from the poisonous
Between 1870 and 1875, hundreds of Blackfoot Indians died as a result of the whisky trade, either killed in drunken quarrels, shot by whisky traders, frozen to death while drunk, or from the poisonous effects of the whisky itself. Chiefs lost their authority, people traded everything they owned, and entire communities were decimated.
At first, alcohol was only available during visits to the Hudson's Bay or North West Company trading posts, but when Montana traders began to pour unlimited supplies of whisky into Blackfoot camps in exchange for buffalo robes, the Blackfoot were swept into a malestrom of alcohol, violence, and death.
Historian Hugh Dempsey offers a comprehensive and highly readable look at the people and history of the trade, the impact on Native peoples, and its effect on US-Canada relations. He includes new research and a thoughtful exploration of the events and circumstances that brought a proud people to their knees.
Hugh Aylmer Dempsey
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is a Canadian historian, an author and the Chief Curator Emeritus of the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta. Dempsey has authored more than 20 books, focusing primarily on the history of people of the Blackfoot Confederacy. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Calgary and was made an honorary chief of the Kainai Blackfoot in 1967. For his contributions to the study of the Plains Indians, Dempsey was awarded membership in the Order of Canada in 1975.