No one person founded Montana. At least 11 Native American tribes hunted buffalo across the land before European settlers arrived. Pierre de la Verendrye discovered the Rocky Mountains in 1743, and France owned the territory until selling it to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.
Notable individuals who contributed to the settling of Montana include Manuel Lisa, who built the first fur fort in 1807, and Father Pierre-Jean de Smet, who established St. Mary's Mission in 1841. The U.S. obtained western Montana from Great Britain in the Oregon Treaty of 1846. Montana became the 41st state in 1889.