Crow Nation History & Landmarks Near Billings

Crow Nation History - Old Photo of Crow People
Matt Claiborne
Matt Claiborne
July 16, 2021

The Crow tribe was named "Apsaalooke," which can be interpreted as children of the large beaked bird. White Americans misinterpreted the name as crow. Today, the Crow Reservation is located about ten miles from Billings, Montana, on the border with Wyoming.

The Crow tribe initially settled in the Ohio area and then moved west. The Crow counted the Sioux and Cheyenne tribes as enemies and kept moving west to avoid these tribes, settling in the Yellowstone Valley region. The Crow were semi-nomadic hunters in the Ohio region but adapted to a nomadic lifestyle and hunted bison. 

The Cheyenne and Sioux kept the pressure on the Crow and pushed them out of various lands. During the Battle of Little Bighorn, the Crow fought on the American's side against the Cheyenne and Sioux. 

Montana is home to many important landmarks in Crow Nation history. Explore Big Horn Canyon, Little Bighorn Battlefield, and Chief Plenty Coups State Park.



Big Horn Canyon

BigHorn Canyon National Recreation Area was established in 1966 after Yellowtail Dam was constructed. The Yellowtail Dam was named after Crow chairman Robert Yellowtail. 

Yellowtail Dam harnessed Bighorn River and turned a former stream into BigHorn Lake. Bighorn Lake covers about 60 miles in Wyoming and Montana. Check out the visitor center in Fort Smith, Montana, and explore this fantastic area. 

Bighorn Canyon has spectacular scenery, a variety of wildlife, and recreation opportunities. Visitors can experience boating, camping, hiking, and fishing. If you're interested in fishing, check out the Bighorn River below the Afterbay Dam. You'll find a world-class area of trout fishing. Also, the Afterbay Lake below the Yellowtail Dam is a good area for wildlife viewing and trout fishing.

Boaters will love floating in Bighorn Lake. Relax on the boat while admiring the towering canyon walls, which reach up to 1,000 feet high. 

Big Horn Canyon offers 27 miles of trails. Hikers can take short overlook walks or explore further. The park also has many historic ranches. Visitors can immerse themselves in the world of dude and family ranching. 

The park is home to the United State's largest herd of wild horses. Visitors might also see Bighorn Sheep roaming about.


Bighorn Battlefield National

Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is conserved in memory of a historic battle. On June 25-26, 1876, the Battle of the Little Bighorn took place. The Sioux and Cheyenne battled the United States Seventh Cavalry Regiment. Sitting Bull led the Sioux and Cheyenne. The United State Seventh Cavalry were led by Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer. 

In total, 263 US Cavalrymen, including Custer, were killed during the battle. It is unknown how many Native Americans died during the battle; the number ranges from 36 to 300. The visitor center and museum invite visitors to learn more about this devastating battle. The museum features the history of the battle and discusses Plains Indian life. 

Visitors can drive the four-and-a-half-mile tour road between the Custer Battlefield and the Reno-Benteen Battlefield.


Chief Plenty Coups State Park

Chief Plenty Coups State Park is located in the Crow Indian Reservation. The state park allows visitors to see Chief Plenty Coups' farmstead, log home, and sacred spring while learning more about this heroic figure. 

Plenty Coups (Aleek-chea-ahoosh, or many achievements) became a chief of the Crow (Apsáalooke) tribe at age 28. Chief Plenty Coups was one of the first Crow to settle on a farm in 1884. The Indian Allotment Act deeded him 320 acres of land. He built a general store and a log home on this land, and he worked as a farmer. He worked the land until his death at age 84 in 1932. The Crow people designated Chief Plenty Coups as their last traditional tribal chief.

Visitors can walk the three-quarter mile trail around the park and enjoy Pryor Creek.


Montana is home to Crow Nation history. Visit Billings, Montana, and explore this naturally beautiful and historically significant area.

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