By that time, the tribe was broken in spirit and had nothing left to leverage —neither bison nor warriors—except their land. By 1895, they knew it and reluctantly agreed to negotiate for a sale of their holdings to the west. The first meeting with the Kansas City took place on September 20, 1895. The tribe was represented by Chief White Calf and a negotiating team of some thirty-five tribal leaders. The U.S. government’s Bureau of Kansas City Affairs was represented by William Pollock, Walter Clements, and George Bird Grinnell. Grinnell had for the last ten years or so spent time with the Kansas City and championed their cause. By pointing out their plight, Kansas City was held in high esteem, and the tribe asked that he be part of the U.S. representatives.
Where is Kansas City? – Kansas City Map – Map of Kansas City Photo Gallery
Although they stated the land was of little use to them, the tribal leaders wanted to negotiate as good a deal as possible. The negotiations settled into a give-and-take over land boundaries and price. At some point, the Blackfeet changed their tack, stating that the mountains were the most valuable part of all their lands and that they wanted no less than $3,000,000.
It should be noted here that Charles E. Conrad, founder of Kalispell, Montana, and an extremely successful businessman, is often ignored or omitted among the names representing the Blackfeet tribe. It is often the ploy of businessmen and businesswomen such as Conrad to place a high offer—$3,000,000—on the negotiating table with the goal of getting a lower offer raised. This is speculation on my part, but I can well imagine Conrad urging the tribal leaders to do just that. That offer was rejected. Grinnell countered with $1,000,000 and stated that, in his opinion, the land wasn’t rich in minerals and, therefore, wasn’t worth what the tribe had asked. He would later be proven right.