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Al Wiseman and his wife Elaine (née Gray) are Michif cultural preservationists who are
members of the Michif Little Shell community of Montana !hey were both born in the
Metis settlement in the canyon alon" the South #or$ of the !eton %iver
and live in
'hoteau( Montana !hey also have a cabin on the road into the canyon
Al Wiseman was one of a "roup of local 'hoteau citi)ens who felt that the famous *ld
+orth !rail in Montana alon" the #ront %an"e should be mar$ed before it totally
disappeared !his trail( startin" as a footpath over the years( evolved into a do" travois
path( a horse travois trail( wa"on trail( and in parts a "ravel road and paved hi"hway ,t
was one of America-s first hi"hways
.ust west of 'hoteau( Montana parts of this hi"hway still sit( untouched( in much the
same shape as when those #irst Americans traveled down it #rom this main road others
branch off li$e spines into the mountains( throu"h the passes( and into the Westside
country of the %oc$ies ,t was in continuous use until the automobile became common
place and the roads and hi"hways moved further east onto the flat plains country
Ancient stone cairn mar$ers still stood in some spots( pointin" the windin" way throu"h
the foothills And the actual trail made from the travois di""in" into the earth mar$ed
other sections /ut the cairns had been torn apart by people loo$in" for treasure under
them 0which they never found1( and the trails were "radually fadin" away naturally !he
committee decided to place boulders with 2*ld +orth !rail3 mar$ed on them at strate"ic
locations alon" the trail in !eton 'ounty !hey had also developed a map of the trail to
the 'anadian border !his was used by some Metis and /lac$foot people( visitin" bac$
and forth( who still traveled by wa"on until the &456-s
At one time pe7oratively called 2/reed !own3 by outsiders
!he *ld +orth !rail is now mar$ed( but to many it is 7ust scratches in the dirt and piles of
roc$s !he full story of the trail and its rich bodied history needs pointin" out( and for this
Al Wiseman is the person to see Al "ives "uided tours of the trail and accompanyin"
sites throu"h the +ature 'onservancy8s 9ine /utte 9reserve !hese are usually free to
those interested and can be short tours( or full day e:peditions Since the early people
didn-t 7ust pass throu"h the area ;uic$ly there are sites of tipis rin" camps numberin" in
the hundreds of lod"es( ea"le catchin" pits( vision ;uest sites( and numerous buffalo
7umps to see !he buffalo 7umps 0in many cases corrals rather than 7umps1 had been in
use since prehistoric times with the last one in the area bein" around &<=> 9is$an( in
/lac$foot( was the name for these corrals( and they provided a food resource that allowed
abundance in the winter months
,n addition to the +ative American sites there are those of the Metis settlers !hese are
the people who had slipped into the nearby foothills to avoid the ?S "overnment forced
removal to 'anada in &<<> !hey used those many canyons 7ust as the early travelers on
the trail did !hey were ideal places to escape enemies( and not be found
,n @664 the ?S Aepartment of the ,nterior( /ureau of Land Mana"ement put up an
interpretive panel commemoratin" the Metis Settlement and *ld +orth !rail !he
followin" is their report of the event
New Interpretive Panel Highlights Métis
by Ann Bouchers, Montana State Office, and Rod Sanders, Lewistown Field Office
Nearly 70 people listened appreciatively
to the smooth, sweet sounds of a fiddle
and a guitar drifting up through the
trees. It was a fitting close to a National
Public Lands Day event at the ar
!ountain interpretive site along the
rugged "oc#y !ountain $ront %& miles
west of 'hoteau.
(he )uly *+ gathering began with a few maintenance pro,ects before
moving on to the day-s biggest attraction. the dedication of a newly
installed interpretive panel about the !/tis 01!234tee5 or 1may4(56
(he !/tis, a distinctive group of mi7ed blood $rench89cottish and Indian
people, evolved during the +7
century $rench8'anadian fur trade
era. (heir ancestral homeland 44 then #nown as 1"upert-s Land5: was a
large area which drains into ;udson <ay, including what is now #nown
2l =iseman, )im $o7 and >ince $o7 close
out the ceremony dedicating a new
interpretive sign about the !/tis.
Photo by Benjamin Miller
as the "ed "iver >alley of North Da#ota and !innesota.
In the +?70s, many of the !/tis moved into !ontana due to conflicts
with uropean and 'anadian immigrants, and eventually made their
homes in some of the secluded canyons along the "oc#y !ountain
$ront. @ntil about +A%0, there was a thriving !/tis village near the ar
"od 9anders, outdoor recreation planner for the Lewistown $ield Bffice,
researched information for the new panel. 9everal people contributed to
and reviewed his wor#, including 'hristi <elcourt, an Bntario, 'anada,
!/tis artist whose wor# is featured on the state4of4the4art 0high
pressure laminate6 sign. ;istorical photographs were provided by the
Louis "iel Institute in =innipeg, !anitoba. )ohn Lemieu7 from the <L!
National 9ign 'enter in "awlins, =yo., designed the layout of the panel
with guidance from "od 9anders and !9B-s interpretive specialist, "uth
!iller. (he result is an attractive, informative synopsis of the !/tis
(he dedication ceremony included remar#s from =illy $ran#, Lewistown
2ssistant $ield !anagerC "ichard ;op#ins, manager of the $irst Peoples
<uffalo )ump near Dreat $alls and <L! Dreat $alls $ield 9tation !anager
when the trail and #ios# were constructedC 2l =iseman, a !/tis
descendant who lives nearbyC and "od 9anders. )im $o7 and son >ince
of ;arlem closed the ceremony with traditional !/tis music on the guitar
9everal others also deserve credit, including Eane $ulbright, Lewistown
$B archeologist, for securing the funding for the new panelC and 9andra
Padilla for organiFing the NPLD pro,ect itself. Bther Lewistown <L!
contributors were 9tan <enes, !ona Dris#ell, <en,amin !iller, Lori
!ontgomery, and 2bel Duevara.
!he South #or$ of the !eton %iver was home to over &66 Metis( many are buried in the
cemetery of the old community !he Wiseman-s maintain the Metis 'emetery in the old
'anyon 'ommunity where they were born in !eton 'ounty( northwest of 'hoteau near
South #or$ of !eton %iver on land which is now owned by the +ature 'onservancy !he
surnames found in this cemetery are /runo( 'ollins( #ellers( Gray( Larance( 9arenteau(
St Germaine( and !alipson
Al Wiseman is the son of 'ecelia Larance (b&4&5) and Albert Aale Wiseman Bis Metis
"randparents on the maternal side are .ames .ulien Larance (b&<<&) and Mabel
'lementine #ellers 'lementine was the dau"hter of #ran$lin #ellers
and Barriet .une
Gray Barriet was the sister of .ames Gray who was the father of Metis political leader(
lawyer and ri"hts activist %aymond #rancis Gray (&466C&4D&)!heir parents were Michel
Gray (&<=>C&46=) and 'aroline 'ampion (&<>EC&4@>)
/orn &<E= at Aupuyer( Montana #ran$lin-s parents were Adolphe #ellers born &<>E in #rance and Emilie
Gariepy born Au"ust >&( &<55 at St #rancois Favier
Al-s "reatC"randfather was /asile Larance (b &<D6) and his "reatC"randmother was
Elaine Wiseman is the dau"hter of Marie 'arriere (&4@EC@6&@) an Alfred Gray Ber
maternal "randparents were William .ohn 'arriere (b&<<5) and #lora A)ure (b &<<E)
'emetery maintained by Al and Elaine Wiseman of 'hoteau (9hoto by %alph !hornton)
!he Wisemans were also involved in the development of the 'hoteau Museum and
nearby Michif house furnished in Metis traditional style Métis Elder Al Wiseman is also
an archivist of Michif fiddle tunes
#lora A)ure was the dau"hter of #rancois A)ure (b &<D@) and Emma La%ance (b &<D@) Emma La%ance
was the dau"hter of /asile La%ance (b &<>&) and Mar"uerite Aes7ardins (b &<>E)
Larance .r( /asile C 'oncernin" his claim as a child C Address( #ort McLeod C /orn(
&<D6 at St Gital C #ather( /asile Larance Sr( (Métis) C Mother( Mar"uerite Aes7ardins(
(Métis) C Married( &<E< at McLeod to Madeleine 'ampion C 'hildren livin"( two( Marie
%ose born &<<6 and .ulien born &<<@ C 'hildren deceased( one( died unchristened C Scrip
for H@=6 C 'laim @D5
Larance( .ulienne C 'oncernin" her claim as a child C Address( St Albert C /orn( &<DD at
St Albert C #ather( /asile Larance( (Métis) C Mother( Mar"uerite Aes7ardins( (Métis) C
Scrip for H@=6 C 'laim <>>
'ollins( A"atheI addressJ 'hateau( MontanaI claim no &<6=I bornJ && May( &<E< at St
AlbertI fatherJ /asile Larance (Métis)I motherJ Mar"uerite Aes7ardins (Métis)I file ref
'ampion( Madeleine C 'oncernin" her claim as a child C Address( #ort McLeod C /orn(
St Albert( +orth West !erritories( &<D6 C #ather( William 'ampion( (Métis) C Mother(
9hiloméne( (Métis) C Married( &<E< at #ort McLeod to /asile Larance C 'hildren livin"(
two( Marie %ose born &<<6 and .ulien born &<<@ C 'hildren deceased( one( died &<<=(
not named C Scrip for H@=6 C 'laim @D4
Gray( 'hristinaI addressJ 'hoteau( MontanaI claim no &><DI bornJ &=( .une( &<<& at St
Mary8sI fatherJ Michel Gray (Métis)I motherJ 'aroline 'ampion (Métis)I scrip certJ form
'( no <4<
EXCERPT FROM 1900 CENSUS Cree or Chippea!Me"is in Cho"ea# Tonship Te"on Co#n"$
NAME RE%AT&ON A'E TR&(E )EAR OF &MM&'RAT&ON
/%ASS( %osalie /oarder && 'ree &<4&
.*''*( 9ete Bead @< 'ree &<EE
M,LLE%K( An"eli;ue Mother 5& &<EE
M,LLE%K( .acob #ather E6 'ree &<EE
M,LLE%K( /arnie /rother @5 'ree
M,LLE%K( .ohnie /rother @> 'ree
M,LLE%K( Albert /rother @@ 'ree
%*SE!!( .oe Bead >= 'ree &<<>( .enne Wife >> 'ree &<EE( Eli)a Aau"hter &> 'ree M!( .ohnie Son 4
'ree M!( ,sabella Aau"hter E 'ree M!( #ran$ Son & 'ree M!
LA%A+'E( /a)il Bead >< 'ree &<<&( .ulian Son &< 'ree M!
G?A%AA9EE( .oe Bead =5 'ree +aturali)ed
G?A%AA9EE( Sarah Wife >5 'ree C
G?A%AA9EE( Eli Son @> 'ree M!
G?A%AE9EE( .ulien Son @& 'ree M!
G%AL( 'ecitia Aau"hter &< 'ree M!
#ELLE%S( Louis Bead @4 'ree M!( Eli)abeth Wife @> 'ree M!
AEM?%%AL( .ohn Bead @@ 'ree &<<4( *live Wife @6 'ree M!( Emma Aau"hter & 'ree M!( .ulian Son
4M&@ 'ree M!
BAM,L,+( Sivers Bead 56 'hippewa &<<5
BAM,L,+( C Wife 55 'ree
BAM,L,+( LormanK Son &E 'ree
SWA+( /atise Bead >5 'hippewa &<<@( .ulia Wife @5 'hippewa( %osa Aau"hter &6 'hippewa M!( %unie
Aau"hter 5 'hippewa M!
/ASSE!!( C Bead 5= 'ree M!
C( Amab Mother 46 9ie"an M!
/EL'*%E( Ale: Bead @D 'ree &<46( Mary % Wife @@ 'ree M!( ?rsla Aau"hter &6M&@ 'ree M!
G%EL( .oe Bead >6 'ree &<46
G%EL( 'aroline Wife =< 'ree &<<6
G%AL( .as Son in law @D 'ree &<4@
G%AL( AL/E%! Grandson @ 'ree M!
G?A%A,9EE( .oe Son &> 'ree M!
G%EL( #lorence Aau"hter &6 'ree M!
G%EL( Mary A Aau"hter 5 'ree M!
G%EL( Melvina Aau"hter > 'ree M!
GA%A,+E%( 9ete Bead E5 'ree &<<@( %osalie Wife D5 'ree( #ra)ine Aau"hter @6 'ree
LA9EL%E( 9ascel Bead >5 'ree &<E@
LA9EL%E( Mary Ann Wife >= 'ree &<E@
LA9EL%E( 'ecelia Aau"hter D 'ree M!
LA9EL%E( .ohn Bead =4 'ree &<E@
LA9EL%E( Mary Wife =E 'ree &<E@
LA9EL%E( .ames /oarder >> 'ree M,++
BAML,+( .oe Bead @5 'ree &<46
BAML,+( Aella Wife &4 'ree M!
LA%A+'E( .ac$son Bead >< 'ree &<<6( Eli)a Wife @4 'ree &<<E( Gri"way Son && 'ree M!( .osaphine
Aau"hter 4 'ree M!( ?rsla Aau"hter E 'ree M!( Gertie Aau"hter 5 'ree M!( Eva Aau"hter > 'ree M!(
Aolman Aau"hter 5M&@ 'ree M!
S! GE%MA,+( Milner Sister in law @E 'ree &<46
LA%A+'E( /a)il Bead E5 'ree &<ED
LA%A+'E( Ma""ie Wife D6 'ree &<ED
+AA*( #ran$ Bead =< 'ree &<<<( Emma Wife @4 'ree &<ED( #ran$ Son 5 'ree M!( Louis Son > 'ree
M!( Benry Son =M&@ 'ree M!
'A%%( .oe Bead >6 'ree M!( Marian Wife @= 'ree M!( 9earl Aau"hter = 'ree M!( Arthur Son @ 'ree
'ompiled and Edited by Lawrence /ar$well
'oordinator of Metis Berita"e and Bistory %esearch
Louis %iel ,nstitute
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