Alexander Culbertson

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."