Saturday, February 02, 2019

John Colter & the Blackfeet escape

When recently watching an episode of Steven Rinella’s brilliant Netflix series Meateater, (some clips on his YouTube channel here) he mentioned John Colter’s remarkable story.  

Born in 1774 in Stuart’s Draft in the Shenandoah area of Virginia, and of Ulster-Scots descent on both sides of his family, his tale is one of heroism in the face of barbarism and brutality. When he was young the family moved to frontier Kentucky and in 1803 he signed up to be one of the “Nine Young Men of Kentucky” who joined the Lewis & Clark expedition which headed into the then unknown West from 1804-1806. The other eight were William Bratton, Joseph Field, Reubin Field, Charles Floyd, George Gibson, Nathaniel Pryor, George Shannon, and John Shields.

In 1808 John Colter and John Potts were attacked by a war party of Blackfeet Indians. Potts was cut to pieces, Colter was stripped naked and Potts’ blood and remains wiped all over Colter's body. The Blackfeet allowed Colter a head start but then pursued him, intending to kill him too. An experienced trapper, he found refuge in a beaver dam which he hid inside and eventually escaped. 

• Wikipedia entry here.

Not for the squeamish!