Published on January 16, 2012 by Amy
Jerry Potts (1840–1896), (also known as Ky-yo-kosi, meaning Bear Child), was a Canadian American plainsman, buffalo hunter, horse trader, interpreter, and scout.
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Potts was born at Fort McKenzie, Montana on the Missouri River, the only child of his Kainai mother Namo-pisi (Crooked Back) and Andrew R. Potts, a Scottish fur trader.
Upon the death of his father in 1840,Jerry was given to American Fur Company trader Alexander Harvey by Namo-pisi prior to her rejoining her tribe. A violent, vindictive man, Harvey neglected and mistreated Potts before deserting him in 1845.
American Fur Company trader Andrew Dawson of Fort Benton, Montana, a gentle man who was called “the last king of the Missouri,” then adopted young Potts. He taught the boy to read and write and allowed him to mix with the Indians who visited the trading post to learn their customs and languages. In his late teens Potts, who adopted the carefree mannerisms of the frontier, joined his mother’s people and from then on drifted between them and Dawson. As a person of mixed blood, he had to prove to both Indians and whites that he could cope in their respective cultures, and was well served by his quick wits, reckless bravery, skills with the knife and lethal accuracy with both a revolver and a rifle.