The Legends of Chief Mountain

by Jen on December 20, 2011 | 3 comments

View of Chief Mountain from Home

If you have ever been to our place, the far southwest corner of Alberta or Glacier Park in Montana – you have probably viewed Chief Mountain. It is not that there are not other mountains to see there – but Chief seems to kind of stand alone and his unique shape makes everyone who views him take notice.

As a child I awoke each morning to look out the kitchen window and say good morning to “Chief”. I remember well it was something that we always did – though I am not sure why because he never really looked a whole lot different that he did the day before. My aunt also had the same view out of her own kitchen window. I remember her always looking to greet Chief the same way we did at our own house. Seemed to me that good old “Chief” was just part of the family. So much so – that when we moved the house I live in now onto the place we all wandered around deciding where to put it – making sure I could see Chief Mountain out the window. Looking back – we should have paid more attention to which way the wind blows and maybe now I wouldn’t be constantly drifted in all winter!

As I was sorting through my photos the other night – it occurred to me that I take a lot of pictures of Chief. It got me thinking – “how did old Chief get its name ?”. Of course I grew up believing that it was because if you look at him from our place you can see the profile of an old Indian Chiefs face. However — I have learned that especially in my family – you might want to double check on some of those story’s you grew up believing!

Well — turns out I couldn’t find anything about Chief Mountain being named so because of it’s resemblance to an Indian Chief – but I DID find some other interesting history about it!

  • first noted on maps, published in England in 1795 or 1796, upon which it was called “King Mountain.”
  • Captain Meriwether Lewis is also believed to have seen the mountain on his trip up the Marias in 1806 and called it “Tower Mountain.”
  • There are two records of the origin of another name for this peak — “Kaiser Peak” — by which it was known for some time. Some say it was so-named by early German geographers, but the most authentic story comes from Eli Guardipee, a member of the Blackfeet tribe, who stated that it was so named for a “Bull-whacker” (oxen freighter) named Lee Kaiser, who accidently shot himself near the present town of Cardston, Alberta, in 1872. For him the creek where this happened was known as “Lee Creek,” and the mountain at its headwaters was called “Kaiser Peak.”
  • There are many historic legends regarding this mountain, the most popular being that of the young Flathead Indian brave who spent several days upon the top of the peak searching for his “medicine vision,” and using a bison skull for a pillow. Apparently you will still find a bison skull a top the mountain.
  • The present name was taken from the Blackfeet Indian name “Old Chief,” or “The Mountain-of-the-Chief,” by which it was known to the Blackfeet, probably because of the above-mentioned legend. (Above facts listed on this website

 

Hmmmm …… no mention of the mountain actually LOOKING like an Indian Chief …..

I think we all have a certain “talisman” that lights the way home – that certain tree, road sign, road, house or mountain that reminds us we are “home”. No matter where I have been – there is still that excitement when Chief Mountain comes into view and I say to myself “there’s Chief”. And while I am likely to never climb to his peak and use a bison skull for a pillow – I am happy to live in his shadow.

AND – I still think that Chief’s profile looks like that of an Indian Chief !

3 comments

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by Mr WordPress on January 1, 2012 at 3:13 pm.
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Hello this is a test comment!

by Jen on January 4, 2012 at 9:49 am.
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My daughter likes Corb Lund and she was asking the other day about the 5 dollar bill lyrics “we rode underneath the shadow of the grand ol’ chief, for some northern rocky mountain kind of tax relief”.
I too grew up looking at it out the front door, from the drywood creek, i know what you mean about the contentment you get looking at those mountains. The “spread eagle” is the other one.

by Derek James on January 21, 2012 at 10:54 pm.
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  • Jenkins Ranche
    Jen Jenkins & Jeff Henderson

    Box 473, Twin Butte, Alberta
    Canada T0K 2J0

    Tel: 403-627-3766
    Email: jen@jenkinsranche.com


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