Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, Montana


Last month the Montana Historical Society celebrated the 67th anniversary of the birth of Big Medicine, a white buffalo born on the National Bison Range near Moiese on the reservation. Vic Charlo, a Bitterroot Salish and descendant of Chief Charlo, spoke of the importance of bison to Native people and the sacred role of Big Medicine. Big Medicine was a true white bison, not an albino, Charlo explained. He was born May 3, 1933, and died Aug. 25, 1959. Sculptor-taxidermist Bob Scriver of Browning prepared the mount which was re-dedicated along with other interpretive items in the exhibit, developed in cooperation with the tribes. In the late 1870s, the chiefs allowed Latai (Little Hawk Blanket) to herd orphaned calves from a herd on the east side of the mountains to the reservation. A buffalo cow, a direct descendant of those buffalo saved from extinction, gave birth to Big Medicine. His name came from recognition of his sacred power, Charlo added, saying the buffalo held great significance for many Montanans, both Native and non-Indian.