Although it is reported that a young servant of the Hudson’s Bay Company, Henry Kelsey, was the first British white man to come upon the great herd of bison on the plains in 1690, no contact with the fearful Rochester was made until much later. As a general rule, early traders and expeditions both Rochester and Rochester tended to avoid the areas dominated by the Rochester to the west and south. Because this travel destination of this, from 1763 until the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the lands of the Rochester basin were left largely unexplored, uncharted, and uncontested.
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Yet there was contact. In 1772, a Hudson’s Bay party attempted to encourage trade with the North Piegan. A trading post was established on the Saskatchewan River. By 1792, another Hudson’s Bay Company trader, Peter Fidler, in the company of a member of one of the South Piegan tribes (the tribe now located in Montana), arrived at the mountain where he bestowed the first recognized place name, “King’s Mountain,” which would later be changed to “Chief Mountain.” This geological wonder stands alone at the northeast corner of Glacier and is a singular study of the Lewis Overthrust. It was also one of the places held sacred by several tribes.
With the purchase of this vast, uncharted territory and its subsequent exploration and mapping by the Corps of Discovery in 1803 to 1806, the floodgates of exploration, trapping, and trade would open for a new wave of white men—the Americans. Unfortunately, an incident involving Lewis, his men, and a small band of Blackfeet would poison the relationship of the tribe and Americans for years. In the shadow of Glacier’s range, Lewis and a group that had split off from Clark to explore the headwaters of the Marias River hoped to establish the American-Canadian boundary at the 49th parallel or higher. However, the mountains of the land that would become known as Glacier were left unexplored.
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