Chief Plenty Coup State Park

Chief Plenty Coups (Alek-Chea-Ahoosh) State Park and Home

Chief Plenty Coups State Park is a state park located approximately west of Pryor, Montana on the Crow Indian Reservation. Chief Plenty Coups' (Alek-Chea-Ahoosh) Home, located in the state park is a National Historic Landmark with several contributing resources. The homestead was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1970, and became a National Historic Landmark in 1999. The property belonged to Chief Plenty Coups, the last traditional tribal Chief of the Apsáalooke people. He and his wife, Strikes the Iron, left their home and property to all people in 1928. The only museum of Apsáalooke culture in the United States is located there as well as a memorial to Plenty Coups and his achievements.

Park history

In a vision as a young man, Plenty Coups saw his future as an old man sitting in the shade of trees with a house and spring nearby. In 1883, he settled on an allotment of on the Crow Indian Reservation and built a log homestead beginning in 1884. In 1928 he and his wife, Strikes the Iron, presented of the land in trust to Big Horn County, including the house, spring, and trees Plenty Coups had envisioned, saying:

Today, I who have been called Chief of Chiefs, among red men, present to all the children of our Great White Father this land where the snows of many winters have fallen on my tepee. This park is not to be a memorial to me, but to the Crow Nation. It is given as a token of my friendship for all people, both red and white.

Upon Plenty Coups' death in 1932 the Big Horn County Commission assumed responsibility and employed a caretaker for the farm and buildings. The Billings Kiwanis Club took stewardship of the land in 1951. The club operated a small museum in the house and placed small sandstone markers at the grave sites of Plenty Coups and his wives. In 1961 the site entered state ownership under the control of the Montana State Highway Commission, who in turn passed it on to the parks division of the Montana Fish and Game Department the predecessor to today's Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in 1965. It was at this time that Chief Plenty Coups' land became a state park. In about 1970, the State of Montana purchased an additional small tract of for access and park structures, bringing the total to today's area of . This additional parcel had been part of an allotment to Plenty Coups' wife, Kills Together who died in 1923.

Neglect took a toll through the decades of the 1950s and 60s and under threat of lawsuit the state, along with tribal and private donors built a visitor center and museum in 1972. The house that Plenty Coups had begun in 1884 was stabilized in 1993 and 1994. In 2003 the state spent US$600,000 on renovations and improvements to the museum including the addition of a fire suppression system, and other building safety features; and reburbishment of the interpretative displays.

Notes and references

Further reading

  • Plenty Coups & Linderman, F.B. (2002). Plenty-Coups: Chief of the Crows. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 9780803280182

External links

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