Frenchman Butte, population around 50, but it bloats a little in the summer when the university kids come back home to work at the Lloyd Furman Museum.
Reeking of old gasoline and stuffed full of arrowheads, a Red River cart, and a beaded leather coat that belonged to Louis Riel, among thousands of other things, this museum runs tours of its faux main street (old school, old house, old train station, all moved from elsewhere and lined up beside the museum) led by twenty-year-old kids, basically. Kids who know their home and its history fluently and who freely draw out maps to the Frenchman Butte National Historic Site northeast of town for visitors. You get there and you know that this is where they also go to drink and have bonfires.
It was in this valley that Big Bear’s/Wandering Spirit’s men and Sam Steele’s troops lobbed shots back and forth at each other until someone got hurt and they stopped. It wasn’t much of a battle. Neither side’s weaponry could send a shot across the valley. Who’s to say exactly how that one soldier got hurt.
The pits Big Bear’s men dug remain, some for ‘military’ and some for ‘civilians’ and hostages, as cover during fighting. It was early spring (1885) and quite cold, and it was during this (non-)battle that a number of hostages managed to escape. From here, Big Bear’s people went north to what would be their last confrontation with military/police forces, at what’s now called Steele’s Narrows.