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Mountain Chief (Ninastoko)

1848-1942. Mountain Chief, the Blackfoot's last hereditary leader, was born on Old Man River in southern Alberta. Mountain Chief began his career as a warrior leader in 1866 at age eighteen, when he led a Blackfoot war party against the Crows at Cypress Hills. In 1867, he went to war against the Kutenai and survived a hand-to-hand fight with the Kutenai leader Cut Nose. In an 1873 battle against the Crow, he was badly wounded in one of his legs. Mountain Chief limped for the rest of his life. Although aggressive in the face of the Blackfoot's traditional Native enemies, Mountain Chief was more accomodating to immigrating Euro-Americans. He made several trips to Washington, D.C., as a representative of the Blackfoot. He signed the Treaty of 1866 ceding the Sweet Grass Hills, and in 1895 signed away the land that now composes Glacier National Park. During his work as a negotiator, Mountain Chief met four U.S. presidents-McKinley, Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, and Wilson. He also worked with General Hugh L. Scott for several years to record Plains Indians' sign languages. In his later years, Mountain Chief frequently assisted tourists at the Glacier National Park. He went blind late in life and died in 1942 at age ninety-four at his home near Browning, Montana.