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Marias Massacre (Baker Massacre)

The Marias Massacre is the name of one of the worst massacres of American history. It is also known as the Baker Massacre (after the commander who led it) or the Piegan Massacre (after the victims who suffered it.) The Marias River was the name of the massacre's location in Montana. In 1870, an encampment of peaceful Piegan (Blackfoot) Indians under US protection were killed by a cavalry unit in violation of a signed peace treaty. (Tradition says that the band's chief, Heavy Runner, was shot to death while waving a copy of the peace treaty.) The massacre has been blamed on mistaken identity and possibly intentional misdirection-- the army was searching for a different Blackfoot band that had been attacking them, but one of the scouts who was married to a woman from the hostile band led them to Heavy Runner's peaceful encampment instead. More than 200 Blackfoot people were killed in the attack. Nearly all of the dead were women, children, and elderly people, since the young men of the tribe were out hunting at the time. It turned out to be one of the largest civilian massacres of the Indian Wars.

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Here are a few good books about the Marias Massacre:

 Blood on the Marias: The Baker Massacre
 Death, Too, for The-Heavy-Runner
 Blackfeet and Buffalo: Memories of Life Among the Indians
 Fools Crow

Here are some Internet resources about the Marias River Massacre:
 The Marias Massacre
 Notes On An Obscure Massacre
 Witnesses to Carnage
 The Heavy Runner Massacre
 Blackfeet Remember Montana's Greatest Indian Massacre
 Wikipedia: The Baker Massacre

And here are links to our webpages about the Blackfoot tribes:
 Blackfoot
 Blackfoot tribe
 Montana tribal map
 Algonquians
 The Great Plains



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