Chief Plenty Coups House And Sacred Spring Project

Accession Number
Tim Bernardis
Jon Ille
Access Restrictions on Use
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
All publication rights are held by Little Big Horn College and use for publication must be approved by archivist.
Preferred Citation of Materials
The Chief Plenty Coups House and Sacred Spring Project Collection, Little Big Horn College Archives, Crow Agency, MT 59022.

Collection Description

1.5 Linear Feet
Report (draft and final copy), grant proposal, correspondence (historical and related to project), research material (institutions listed on folder heading), newspaper articles, photographs. Much of the collection is photocopies of historical documents and photographs located in other repositories.


The Chief Plenty Coups House and Sacred Spring Collection was created during the writing of a report on Chief Plenty Coups House and Sacred Spring. Prior to its donation in the Little Big Horn College Archives in 1998 the collection resided with Tim Bernardis.

Historical Note

Born in 1848, Chief Plenty Coups lived through a period of profound change as the Crows went from a lifestyle based around mobile hunting and gathering to a cloistered existence on the reservation. Chief Plenty Coups recognized the Crows future during a fast and subsequent vision as a youth in the Crazy Mountains of central Montana.

Prior to the forced relocation of the Crows to a new agency on the Little Bighorn River in 1884, Plenty Coups and a group of followers took allotments on the western section of the reservation near present day Pryor, Montana in 1883. On his allotment, Plenty Coups built his home that is the basis of this study. Plenty Coups died in 1932 at the age of eighty two.

Plenty Coups expanded his house dramatically from the 1880s to the time of his death, adding rooms, outbuildings, and other accoutrements. He operated a small store on the property selling groceries and other provisions to community members. After his death, the Kiwanis Club of Billings, of which he was a member, assumed ownership of the property. In 1965 the Kiwanis transferred ownership to the Montana Department of Fish and Game, who established the Chief Plenty Coups State Park in 1967.

Participants in Project

Tim McCleary wrote the final report on the Chief Plenty Coups House and Spring. McCleary received his Master’s degree from the University of Montana in anthropology in 1993 and his doctorate from the University of Illinois in 2010. He has taught at Little Big Horn College since 1993.

Tim Bernardis is the librarian at Little Big Horn College, a position he assumed in 1985. He also taught Crow Studies courses at Little Big Horn College during the 1980s. Bernardis provided much of the research used in the writing of the report on Chief Plenty Coups. Bernardis received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley in History and Native American Studies in 1981 and his Master’s degree from Montana State University in 1987.


  1. Grant Proposal, Chief Plenty Coups House and Sacred Spring Project
  2. Draft, “The Chief Plenty Coups House and Sacred Spring Project”
  3. Final Draft, “The Chief Plenty Coups House and Sacred Spring Project”
  4. Report, “The Chief Plenty Coups House and Sacred Spring Project”
  5. Chief Plenty Coups State Park, Draft Management Plan and Environmental Assessment (Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks)
  6. Correspondence, Historical, 1890-1941
  7. Correspondence, Robert Lowie, 1935, 1953
  8. Correspondence, Chief Plenty Coups House and Sacred Spring Project
  9. Correspondence, Transfer of Chief Plenty Coups House to State of Montana, 1961-1965
  10. Unprocessed Material, Mansfield Library, Frank Bird Linderman Papers
  11. Research Material and Notes, Tim Bernardis, Plenty Coups House and Sacred Spring Project
  12. Research Material, National Archives and Records Administration, (Related to Plenty Coups)
  13. Research Material, Seaver Center for Western History Research, Edward S. Curtis Collection, ND, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
  14. Documents, American Baptist Historical Society, 1931-1945
  15. District Court Decision in the Matter of Plenty Coups and Strikes the Iron, 1961
  16. Transcript, Crow Tribal Council, December 9, 1890
  17. Report, Council with Crow Chiefs, April 12, 1891
  18. Statement, Chief Plenty Coups to Governor Joseph K. Toole
  19. Speeches, Chief Plenty Coups, March-April, 1919
  20. Statement, Chief Plenty Coups, 1931
  21. Cattle Brands, Crow Indian Reservation, 1900-1916
  22. Plainfeather Story on Chief Plenty Coups (Told to Hank Old Coyote)
  23. Plenty Coups Articles in Billings Gazette, 1924-1925
  24. Article on Crow Fair, Harper’s Weekly, 1908
  25. Newspaper Articles, Related to Chief Plenty Coups and Frank Linderman, 1927-1931
  26. Information on Chief Plenty Coups and Billings Kiwanis Club, 1924
  27. Recollections, Willis M. Spear
  28. Files, Montana State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), List of Sites and Correspondence
  29. Historic Structures, Yellowstone County, SHPO, 1995
  30. Trust Transfer and Warranty Deed, Plenty Coups House, 1969
  31. Crow Articles, The Watchmen Examiner, 1909-1960
  32. Excerpt, Indian Oasis, Janette Woodruff
  33. Reference Material, Crow Indians, Montana Historical Society
  34. Finding Aid, Joseph Sharp Collection, Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, Wyoming
  35. Inventory, Mansfield Library, Frank Bird Linderman Papers
  36. Photocopies, Crow Photos, Unidentified Provenance
  37. Photocopies, Crow Photos, Montana Historical Society
  38. Photocopies, Crow Photos, Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman, Montana
  39. Photocopies, Crow Photos, Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, Wyoming
  40. Photographs, Chief Plenty Coups and Others