Published on November 18, 2012 by Carol
Author: Hugh A. Dempsey
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.