Welcome to the official site for the Town Of Browning , Montana

History and the Lewis & Clark Expedition

The Town of Browning, incorporated in 1919, is the Agency Headquarters for the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and has been since 1895.  Browning was named after Daniel M. Browning, who was then the Commissioner of Indian Affairs working in Washington D.C.

National Register of Historic Places - Lewis & Clark's Camp Disappointment

Camp Disappointment was listed on October 15, 1966.

On the return trip in late July of 1806, Capt. Lewis, George Drouillard, and the two Fields brothers ascended the Marias River.  The explorers were hoping to find a tributary of the Missouri that went far enough north to cross the 50th parallel.  If the mission proved successful; more territory to the north could be claimed by the United States under the Louisiana Purchase.

The northernmost point reached by the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Camp Disappointment, is approximately 12 miles northeast of Browning on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.   On the Cut Bank River, east of present-day Browning, Lewis could see the river exiting the mountains.  He called this northern-most campsite of the expedition ‘Camp Disappointment’ since this meant the Marias did not reach 50 degrees north latitude.

This historic site is marked by a monument erected by the Great Northern Railway in 1925 and a sign at milepost 233 on US Highway 2 between Browning and Cut Bank, which is four miles directly south of the actual camp site reached on July 23, 1806.  (Access by permission from private landowner only). 

According to most history books, on the return trip in 1806 Lewis, Drouillard and the Field brothers also encountered eight members of the Blackfeet Tribe (Pikuni) and made camp for the night.  During this first day and night, Lewis explained the United States’ intent to bring about a comprehensive peace between all the Indian tribes of the west.  He went on to add that the Shoshones and Nez Perces – mortal enemies of the Blackfeet – had already agreed to this peace and would be receiving guns and supplies because of it. 

To the Blackfeet, American plans represented a direct threat.  As far as the Indians were concerned, giving guns to their adversaries only could result in a weakening of Blackfeet power.  That night, the Blackfeet attempted to steal the expedition’s guns.  Their plans went awry and in the chaos that ensued Lewis and Reuben Field each killed a Blackfeet warrior.  The surviving Blackfeet returned to their tribe and communicated what they had learned of America’s goals for the region.  From that point forward, the Blackfeet regarded the Americans with hostility and acted toward them similarly. 

The Two Medicine Fight Site, where they encountered eight members of a Blackfeet Tribe (Pikuni) and made camp for the night, is about 25 miles southeast of Browning, Montana in Pondera County on the eastern edge of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and was listed on October 6, 1970.  (Access by permission from private landowner only).