Many different Native American tribes made the Gallatin Valley home for thousands of years, including Shoshone, Bangtail, Nez Perce, Sioux, Blackfeet, and Flathead.

As Lewis and Clark followed the Gallatin River from Three Forks, Montana to Bozeman, in 1806 Clark took a side trip and visited Bozeman’s Gallatin Valley on their way east from Three Forks.

The Gallatin Valley was settled by numerous Native American tribes over the course of thousands of years, including the Shoshone, Bangtail, Nez Perce, Sioux, Blackfeet, and Flathead, though the land wasn’t claimed by any specific native tribe.

From its base in Three Forks, Montana, following the Gallatin River, William Clark, arguably one of Bozeman’s earliest pioneers, visited the Gallatin Valley in July 1806.

Several of Clark’s journal entries refer to the future Bozeman as the “Valley of the Flowers,” the name derived from the southwest Montana native tribes’ description of the pristine Gallatin Valley land.

A side trail from the famous Oregon Trail, the Bozeman Trail was established in 1863 by John Bozeman and his trusty sidekick John Jacobs.

On the west side of the Gallatin Valley in the Tobacco Root Mountains lies Virginia City, Montana, located on what will become the future city of Bozeman, near the Gallatin Valley.

At the end of the 18th century, John Bozeman established a small agricultural colony in the Gallatin Valley, where he raised potatoes, wheat, and cattle for Montana miners to get food.

Bozeman, who was appointed probate judge in Gallatin County in 1865, had extensive legal experience. Around this time, he decided to stop leading wagon trains into Montana Territory.

With the Indian Wars terminating the Bozeman Trail shortly thereafter in 1868, the fertile land of Bozeman attracted permanent settlers seeking an agricultural real estate market in Bozeman.

Story left Bozeman, Montana once in 1866 with 3,000 longhorn cattle. He sneaked past angry Native Americans and the United States Army, which then tried to dismiss Story for safety reasons. Story’s cattle formed the first herd of today’s Montana Farm and Ranch industry.

During the crossing of the Yellowstone River by Bozeman and Thomas Cover on April 18, 1867, the Blackfeets encountered Bozeman and Cover. Several different opinions exist on this matter; some say Bozeman was killed by Cover; others say he was killed by the Blackfeet.

In spite of his adventurous life, John Bozeman’s life ended abruptly, and the Blackfeet demanded additional protection from the local settlers and miners, causing considerable political disturbance in the area. Fort Ellis was established in response to public demand for more protection and John Bozeman’s tragic death near Yellowstone.