Culbertson in 1850.
(1809 - 1879)
Fur trader, interpreter
Born in 1809 in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, of Scotch-Irish
heritage, Alexander Culbertson arrived on the Upper Missouri in
1833 with D. D. Mitchell as employees of John Jacob Astor's
American Fur Company.
Culbertson's first post was at Fort McKenzie, where he established
excellent relations with the notoriously bellicose Blackfeet.
It was later said that he succeeded less through business acumen
than by shrewd diplomacy. He was a man of moderation and
temperate action, honest and fair, and married a beautiful
Blackfeet woman, Natawista, when he was the chief factor at Fort
Union. For more on Fort Union, click here.
Culbertson not only understood the Indian way of life, but he
was very respectful of their culture and lifestyle. When the
great peace council was convened at Horse Creek, in 1851,
Culbertson, one of the few white man Indians could trust, played a
vital role in the negotiations and translations of the terms.
Like Fitzpatrick and Bridger, he was fluent in many Indian
languages. For more on Culbertson, click here
Isaac Stevens would say of him, "Culbertson exhibited an
ascendancy over these tribes which could only have been gained by a
just and decisive course toward them."