Samuel Walking Coyote

Walking Coyote
“Whist a Sinchilape”


This native had several names, depends on whose doing the talking. Indian Sam/Samuel, also known by Sam Wells/Welles, Indian Sam Wellew, Samuel Walking Coyote, Walking Coyote, Hunting Dog, Walking Buffalo, and Short Coyote.

Why they may have had several names.

Indians from many tribes were on the Flathead Reservation, Flatheads, Pend Oreilles, Kootenais, Nez Perce, Iroquois and a few Delawares, Crees, Colvilles, Spokanes, etc..


1933 Version: This version backs up the Buffalo Song version. 

Traveling northeasterly from Dixon, situated about 45 miles northwest of Missoula, in western Montana, one goes past the Flathead Indian Agency buildings and along the highway skirting the bison preserve, to the junction of Mission Creek and Flathead river. Here on the left still stands an old log hut. Samuel Walking Coyote, a Flathead Indian of the Pend d’Oreille division, used to live here with his wife Mary Sabine, and stepson Joseph Ahtati. According to old timers, passerbys on the trial along here in 1874 would notice carefully staked out to feed, four yearling bison, two heifers, and two bulls.

These, the family had recently brought home with them from a hunting expedition to the Milk river country on the east side of the Continental divide and very near the Canadian border in northern Montana.

This happened about the time the great slaughter of the northern herds of buffalo in the plains area took place. Up to 1873 eye witnesses have recorded that hundreds of thousands of buffalo were to be seen on the Missouri plains and in only a few years they were all gone But the herd Samuel and his family were caring for in the Flathead Valley grew in numbers and were being preserved to posterity, and it is their descendants over in Canada which go to make the grand total of well over 10,000 fine specimens running ion the large preserves of northern Alberta; for over 20 years ago when the buffalo was all but extinct, there being only a few hundred in the whole world and the finest and largest herd were the Pablo animals in the Flathead of which the embryo herd of Walking Coyote’s had formed the nucleus, the Canadian Government bought them for over 4150,000 cash, and took them away to Canada where they have multiplied rapidly.

Later Samuel sold his small herd, and having accomplished his part, fades from this story, for shortly after receiving $2,000 proceeds from their sale, he was found under the Higgins Avenue Bridge in Missoula, dead from the effects of a spree.

Near Samuel’s old log house to this day stands a large rounded clay mound. This once served as a sort of root cellar, but when Samuels’ wife died of the dreaded smallpox, the malady caused such fright among the survivors that the poor woman was, with scant ceremony, placed in this cellar and the entrance sealed and to this day stands as the only monument to the first guardian angels of the finest buffalo in existence.

Mrs Moss Grenier now living at St Ignatius is a daughter of Joseph the stepson of Samuel. It was to Joseph, the real work fell of bringing the animals from Sweetgrass hills. His boyish heart often rebelled at the long, weary hours he trudged along the trails which led over the high Cadott pass herding and assisting his young charges along. There is an informal sketch done by Charles Russell of his conception of this scene. Originally there had been six young calves, who being orphans when the Indians were killing the cows wandered into Samuels lodge on the hunt, and were cared for by the household. Only four of them however survived the arduous overland trail westward to the Lower Flat-head valley.

Here they always created much interest and after a time the embryo herd was eyed with intent to purchase. Two young partners, Michael Pablo and C.A. Allard finally in 1884, became the new owners of some 20 of the animals and these thrived and multiplied and roamed the rich valley lands along with cattle herds which also grazed on the Flathead Indian reservation until the settlers fenced the ranges.


Parts of this below are credited to author Bon IWhealdon, writer of ” I Will Be Meat for My Salish” published by Salish Kootenai College Press and Montana Historical Society. It’s a great read!

Brief Life History of Bon Isaac. When Bon Isaac Whealdon was born on 20 November 1890, in Ilwaco, Pacific, Washington, United States, his father, William David Whealdon, was 46, and his mother, Elizabeth Whealdon, was 35. He died on 25 January 1959, in Hot Springs, Sanders, Montana, United States, at the age of 68, and was buried in Ronan, Lake, Montana.

Chief Moses Michell  (born in 1829 and died March 15 1899 at the age of 70, was the son of a chief of this Central Washington tribe. His father sent him off at age 10 to Rev. Henry Spalding’s Christian mission at Lapwai, Idaho, to learn Christianity and the white man’s ways. Moses received his Christian name there. He soon returned to his own people and as a young man came to be known as a brave warrior, a fierce opponent of white intrusion, and an influential leader.)

“ I know that Samuel Wells, whom the whites called, “Indian Samuel, “ brought four buffalo calves, two heifers and two bulls, from the other side of the mountains. Several times I went to see the calves. Sometimes, Samuel had them in a pasture, near St. Ignatius town; but at other times, they were upon his home-place on the bank of the Pend Oreille, [Flathead] river.’

He had also heard the story about his tribe being mad at him for taking a wife from another nation. Samuels wife told him if he was unhappy that he should capture all the calves he could and take them to his people and they would be so happy , they would forgive him. When he brought them the calves they were so happy they made a feast for him. “My father, Chief Charley Michell of the Pend Oreilles, arose and talked to the people, saying, “Our brother is back with a gift for us. Now, we shall bring gifts to his teepee.”

(Chief Moses Michells wife played interpreter)


This may help explain the numbers Samuel may have had. Before, the head count never added up. 

Told by Que que sah


“I was in the village St. Ignatius that day in 1873, when Welles rode in with his pack string (ponies). He had four buffalo calves on  pack ponies. I recall that they were rather small. One, in particular, was very young and weak. It was a bull calf. As we gathered about Sam while he was unloading, he told us how he acquired the calves. He had traded with other Indians (I believe he said Piegans) for the three older ones. The youngest had been given to him by a Piegan. Its mother had been killed, and it was too young to eat grass. Sam had managed to save it by feeding it with milk from a pack mare that had lost her colt. I heard that he taught the bull calf to suckle the mare, but I do not know if that story is true.

Buffalo hunting had ended owing to the fact that the herds had all been killed. We were all greatly interested in the welfare of Samuel’s calves. I think that every Indian upon the reservation looked upon this little herd as the last connecting link with the happier past of his people. I know we all protected them, wherever they were grazing.”

When they numbered 12 or 13, Allard and Michell Pablo paid Samuel a good price for them.”


Samuel Walking Coyote, a Pend d’Oreille Indian on a Montana reservation.

In the spring of 1873, while out hunting some of the last bison in that area. Killing the cows and that left these baby calves behind. Walking Coyote took and cared for, the four little creatures- two bulls and two heifers- and left them at the St. Ignatius mission, the centre of the Flathead reserve in Montana.

They became pets and objects of interest around the mission. By 1884 their progeny numbered 12/14. And that year Donald McDonald, the last man to represent the Hudson’s Bay company on United States territory, entered into negotiations to purchase that little herd of last plains buffalo remaining alive. But C. A. Allard and Michel Pablo, two Montana ranchers, made a deal with Walking Coyote, at $250 ahead for the animals. Walking Coyote insisted on having actual money; he refused to accept a cheque.

Circa 1880. When the slaughter was at its height,  “Walking Coyote, “made a raid into the plains of Alberta, and as a result of his buffalo-hunt secured about twenty prime beast, which he sold to another half-breed Indian of his tribe for $2000. (Michael Pablo)

Sources:   “I Will be Meat for My Salish”: The Buffalo and the Montana Writers Project …, Montana Historical Society

Buffalo Song
Another version is that Walking Coyote, his wife, and stepson were out gathering buffalo calves, and an old friend, Two Swans, knew of this, his son Red Elk, found an orphan calf that was sick being without its mother, and they decided if she had a chance they would give it to Walking Coyote. They made the route over to where Walking Coyote and his family were staying and gave up the little calf. Walking Coyote and his family stayed there and raised the calves until the weather permitted them to travel. That day came and they all headed back home over the mountain. Blanket Hawk knew the route that was the safest to take and lead them all back over the mountain. Not without troubles and on the downside they lost one calf in a rock slide. They made it to St Ignatius, the years went by and the little herd grew as well as the family of Walking Coyote. Times were hard with 3 daughters, son, and a herd to care for. Moving them from pasture to pasture as seasons changed. 

“My buffalo children, we need help.” Walking Coyote said. “If only we could find someone else who remembers how beautiful it was when the Buffalo People blanketed the plains.”

Pablo had been in the area few times for work and had seen Walking Coyotes herd, so he went to him and made him an offer. 

“I like your dream of bringing back the buffalo,” Michel Pablo said. “Our valley is a good place for a herd. We have wide pastures, shelter from winter storms, and plenty of Indian people who love these animals. Let me buy your herd from you.”

“My friend, “ Walking Coyote said, “I will trust you with my children.”

And so the deal was made and as hard as it was for Walking Coyote, they had to let them go.

 “Buffalo Song”  By Bruchac, Joseph, 1942 Joseph Bruchac is among the most respected and widely published Native American authors, with over 100 titles in print, including the popular Keepers of the Earth series and Lee & Low’s Killer of Enemies trilogy, which received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews.


2004 – Restoring a Presence: American Indians and Yellowstone National Park
By Peter Nabokov, Lawrence L. Loendorf (works submitted to the National Parks Service in 1994)

This book is available at  University of Oklahoma Press, and with other popular booksellers as a paperback. Special thanks to Oklahoma Press for allowing me to share this small section.  In all my research I have not come across some of the information that is in this book that is why I consider it an important and current read. COPYRIGHT

On the Kootenai-Salish Indian Reservation an account of the partial saving of ancestors to this herd has been preserved within a longer, three-part narrative, which also fits within an older, more complex tradition of the intimate relationship between the Flathead Indians and the buffalo. Early in 1977 these stories were related on tape by Blind Mose Chouteh, an 87-year-old elder and famous storyteller, and translated by Dolly Linsbebigler in 1992. A portion is summarized here courtesy of the Kootenai-Salish Culture Committee. All three of these narratives feature the family line of a part-Kalispel, part-Salish man called Blanket Hawk, whose name apparently referred to the protective neck piece of hawk skins that he habitually wore into battle.

In the first narrative places Blanket Hawk is a young man camping with his people away from their protected valley, all of them facing famine on the open plains in the middle of a harsh Montana winter, The chiefs cast around for medicine men with supernatural powers to lure warm weather and make the snow melt. Although Blanket Hawk and his friends propose a Jump Dance, an older medicine man disdains the idea as futile. When the children, who are the last to be given food, are threatened with starvation, the leasing chiefs ask Blanket Hawk for help.

In his tipi, Blanket Hawk conducts his own Jump Dance to attract the Chinook winds, and afterwards predicts that the following morning nine buffalo will enter the camp, to be followed by a much larger herd. At sunup the camp is awakened by barking dogs, and everyone emerges from their lodges to find nine buffalo bulls standing and waiting in the midst of camp. They are quickly slaughtered, and warm weather moves in. Everyone is relieved and happy again, according to the narrative the youngsters throw snowballs. All sit down to meals of boiled and roasted buffalo meat, and the remainder is dried for later use. Then still more buffalo appear, assuring an adequate food supply for the future. The people survive and return home.

By the opening of Chouteh’s second story the character known as Blanket Hawk is a grown man. Again the Salish are out on the plains getting their annual meat supply, but now it is spring — “when the wild roses were in bloom,” as they phrase it. On their way home from their successful hunt, they camp for three days in Blackfeet country. It is then that Blanket Hawk gets the idea of initiating a form of animal husbandry. As he explains to his friends and his mother, “I am going to ask the Chief and the people. I am going to tell the Chiefs and leaders if we can bring back some buffalo. ” After smoking with the chiefs, he shares his plan for having buffalo always close by so that his people will be safe from distant enemies like the Cree.

But half of the chiefs argue that such long journeys are important, because it is good to be able to fight other tribes, and worthwhile to travel so they can hunt and “pass the time.” The other chiefs, however side with Blanket Hawk. When they cannot reach a consensus, Blanket Hawk abandons his idea and pronounces, “I quit asking, I will be silent. The buffalo can stay here are the plains. Maybe you like our people getting killed by the different tribes of Indians. Maybe you like us to get tired by coming here to phone buffalo for our food.”

The following day, when they are breaking camp, “[t]he buffalo surrounded the people who were moving. The buffalo stayed close by, going along with the people; and some stayed near Atatice? (Blanket Hawk) and his friends.” But since the other camp members would not allow the buffalo to join them, Blanket Hawk must part with the animals. The story continues: 

His friends mounted their horses. And Atatice? was last. Before he mounted on his horse, he made sounds, saying, “Qeyq, qeyq- eeee.” He waved to the buffalo, as if to separate the buffalo. He said to the buffalo, “Go on, it is your destiny, whatever may happen to all of you buffalo. They would not let you go back with me. It is up to you, whatever happens to you and whatever happens to me. That is all.” And Atatice cried, His friends also cried. They regretted to part with the buffalo.

The buffalo turned towards the east (rising sun). They went in different directions.

The men were crying as they moved on forward. As they were crossing over the mountains, they looked back and saw the buffalo, saw the black forms of the buffalo moving along.

Thus ended Chouteh’s second story. Before moving to his third narrative, he interjected a somewhat shocking anecdote that they said light on the deeper meaning underlying the usual affinity between Blanket Hawk and buffalo. Chouteh related that Blanket Hawk’s wife brought a buffalo head into their house in order to butcher it and boil it. At the time blanket Hawk was playing cards with friends and turned to her, aghast at what he saw. Immediately he begged her, “Don’t, don’t, don’t. Take the head outside to fix it, chop it up, because I have always told you all not to prepare it inside of the house. You will hurt me.”

Ignoring his plea, she continued cutting away. At first Blanket Hawk suffered only a nosebleed. But soon he was vomiting blood. When she did not cease sawing on the head, he collapsed to the floor and died.

This taboo against bringing a buffalo head indoors is interestingly similar to that which inhibited the Crow elder from allowing one into his house in Wyola, Montana, in 1986. That was when one of the authors of this book and showed up with a large buffalo bull skull from an animal he had hunted in Black Canyon on the Crow Reservation in 1962 while working with the Crow tribe’s Fish and Game division. It was needed for the elders medicine pipe bundle ceremony, but at the same time the restrictions associated with his rock medicine bundle prohibited a buffalo head from remaining under his roof. In the case of this Salish Indian, Blanket Hawk, we might infer that his close ties with the buffalo world, whether or not it was due to the fact that the buffalo was his personal guardian spirit, was founded on similar respect for the creature as a species, or obligations to it as his supernatural garden. In the two narratives already cited, such as special relationship was evidence. The power works for you or against you; in this story the insult shown to the animal in Black Hawks home sealed his gory fate.

Chouteh’s third narrative stresses that continuity of the symbiotic relationship between a particular family and buffalo. Now the protagonist is Blanket Hawk’s son, a young man named Susep tatati, or “Hawk.” As is often the case with more “recent” stories, this one resembles an abbreviated memorandum rather than have well-developed narrative. Without any preamble we learn that Hawk is a “big-sized boy,” and we also infer that he seems to have inherited his father’s personality or inclination, for we immediately are told,  “He brought back two buffalo from the plains country” and that his intent is to keep them alive. After his father’s death, his mother, Sabine Mary, remarries a man named Samuel. It was near their house, just north of the old Dixon Agency, that this particular group of animals began to breed and multiply.

But while the boy was away on a trip, two men showed up at his parent’s home and offered to buy the entire bunch. Chouteh gives their names as the aforementioned Michael Pablo and Charles Allard and recalls that they paid a thousand and several hundred dollars for the small herd. The story continues:

The buffalo were herded, going by way of Dixon. Ravalli and came through here. They were driven by way of where the present bridge is now. There were a lot of buffalo.

When the buffalo came over the hill and the Indians here saw the buffalo, they shouted, hollering with excitement. The Indians kept shouting as the buffalo went by.

Charles Allard and Michael Pablo already had a herd of buffalo. They wanted to increase their herd. They were the only two people who had any buffalo.

Maybe it was two days later, maybe it was later that [Hawk] returned and missed the presence of the buffalo. He looked around and found the buffalo gone.

When he got home, he asked his mother, “Where are my buffalo?”

“They are gone,” his mother told him. “Your [stepfather] sold them. They were driven off several days ago. You have some money in the amount of a thousand and several hundred dollars. Your stepfather has your money.

We are using some of it for food, bought groceries.”

[Hawk] cried, he felt so bad. That was the end of that.
[Tape 95, FCC Transcripts, Courtesy of Kootenai-Salish Culture Committee].

More on the subject from YouTube


The images-drawings are eerily similar to those found in the “Buffalo Song” book listed above. Also in that book, it portrays Walking Coyotes’ stepson as being a small boy. 

In October of 2018 :

In a brisk 28 minutes, the documentary challenges conventional wisdom about the National Bison Range’s origins. Several histories credit Samuel Walking Coyote, a member of the Pend d’Oreille tribe, with driving a few bison calves over the Continental Divide to the Flathead Reservation in the 1870s, helping save the animals from extinction and starting what would become the Bison Range’s herd.

But according to the documentary and the oral traditions it draws on, that idea actually began with another Pend d’Oreille Indian named Atatice, or Peregrine Falcon Robe. His son Latati, or Little Falcon Robe, carried it out, bringing bison calves on an arduous eastward trek to the reservation.

In 1884, Latati’s stepfather, Samuel Walking Coyote, sold the herd to Charles Allard and Michel Pablo in 1884 — without Latati’s consent, the film explains. Some of those animals and their descendants would be purchased by the American Bison Society in 1909 and, the documentary argues, Walking Coyote unfairly received the credit.

The Missoulian by PATRICK REILLY 

I look forward to seeing their documentary.

Jan 2023 I found a video posted by CPAWS Sturgeon River Plains Bison  they state in the video ” The Pablo Allard herd was started just by four calves saved by Atatice and his son Latatice” No mention of Walking Coyote. 



Harrisburg Telegraph Pa.

Dec 7 1911
Offered Only $15 a Head For Animals Worth $200


Paid $120,000 For a Herd of Six Hundred of Them

Recently the Canadian Government, by a striking coup d’eta, secured the greatest herd of bison in captivity, and by returning them to an immense preserved tract in their native haunts on the plains of the great West have arrested natural extinction with such complete success that within a few years they anticipate possessing a huge herd of these animals. The story of how this deal was consummated, says a writer in the December Wide World Magazine, and how the United States lost a great opportunity of becoming possessed of one of the finest animal attractions the world, constitute an interesting romance.

When the slaughter was at its height, some thirty years ago, a Flathead Indian known as “Walking Coyote, “made a raid into the plains of Alberta, and as a result of his buffalo-hunt secured about twenty prime beast, which he sold to another half-breed Indian of his tribe for $2000. Michel Pablo, the new owner of the animals is a shrewd business man, even for an Indian. Realizing that the bison in its natural state would soon become a thing of the past, he turned them loose upon the Indian reservation in Montana, leaving them to wander and roam of their own free will over an area of some fifty square miles. By freeing them in this manner, and protecting them against destruction, he concluded that they would propagate freely, since the conditions were highly conducive to such a result.

When the United States Government took the bison under its protective wing it could not acquire Pablo’s herd, as it was the private property of an individual, and the Flathead was at liberty to deal with his animals just as he felt disposed. He himself was under the protection of the Government, but that did not apply to his stock, and so he felt perfectly secure.

But one day Pablo received disquieting news. He was informed that the United States Government had decided at an opportune moment to throw the Indian reservation open to settlement. When that happened, what was he to do with his herd? He decided to offer the whole stock, just as it was, to the authorities, hurried to Washington and expressed his readiness to sell. The Government offered to relieve him of his stock at $15 per head. Pablo refused hotly and laugh out the parsimonious offer.

At this juncture things took a sudden turn in his favor. Mr. Howard Douglas, the Commissioner of the Canadian Parks, had heard about Pablo’s wonderful herd and was cognizant of the American negotiations. He forth with hastened to Ravalli to open negotiations with the Indian for their acquisition. It was a delicate task, as Pablo, who could not speak a word of English, viewed the English-speaking race with extreme suspicion, heightened by the treatment he had received from the American authorities. The pourparlers were very tedious, as the Indians was still in treaty with the United States Government, but the deal was clinched in three months, when Mr. Douglas offered to take the whole herd of 600 head at least, at $200 a piece making $120,000 for the whole consignment. The bargain was struck and Pablo signed a contract undertaking to hand the animals safe and sound to Mr. Howard at the point of shipment. Pablo chuckled with the light, for he had accumulated wealth suddenly, and his foresight in buying up “Walking Coyote’s” twenty buffalo, nearly thirty years before, had paid him handsomely. Today Pablo is reckoned a veritable Croesus among Indians.


The Winnipeg Tribune Dec 22 1922

The buffalo wandered over the prairies in their thousands. But the killing of them went on with such rapidity after the middle years of the last century that the species came close to extinction. If it were not for the Flathead herd, the buffalo might by now be pretty nearly as extinct as the Great Auk. The beginning of the Flathead herd was in the spring of 1874, when Walking Coyote, a Pend d’Oreille Indian on a Montana reservation, was with a hunting party in the Milk River country close to the international boundary, which killed some of the last of the buffalo. Pathetically, four little buffalo calves, whose mothers had been killed, followed the horses of the hunters. Walking Coyote took and cared for the four little creatures – two bulls and two heifers – and left them at the St. Ignatius mission the centre of the Flathead reserve in Montana.

They became pets and objects of interest around the mission. By 1884 their progeny numbered 14. In that year Donald McDonald, the last man to represent the Hudson’s Bay company on United States territory, entered into negotiations to purchase that little herd of the last plains buffalo remaining alive. But C.A. Allard and Michel Pablo, two Montana ranchers, made a deal with Walking Coyote, at $250 a head for the animals. Walking Coyote insisted on having actual money; he refused to accept a cheque. Allard and Pablo were busy counting out the greenbacks into piles of $100, each of which was placed under a stone, when they saw a mink. Instantly Walking Coyote and both the ranchers went after the mink, and for some minutes forgot the piles of money, to which they hurried back, to find it safe, with a lobe Indian looking at it with covetous eyes.

In 1893 Allard and Pablo bought the remnant of “Buffalo” Jones’s herd at Omaha, which had been purchased from Col. Bedson, at Stony Mountain, who had got them from Hon. James McKay, of Deer Lodge, who was in one of the early Manitoba governments and had started his little buffalo herd shortly before Walking Coyote came in possession of the four little buffalo calves. The buffalo now in Winnipeg are descendents of Hon. James McKay’s buffalo; the animals of that herd which Col. Bedson did not get were bought by Sir. Donald A. Smith, afterwards Lord Strathcona, and given by him to the Dominion government. Winnipeg, with a great deal of trouble, managed to get four of that lot. It is thus plain that all the buffalo in existence are closely allied.

In 1906 the Dominion government bought the Flathead herd, which by that time had increased to some 700 animals, from Michel Pablo, whose partner C.A. Allard, had died in 1896. About $200,000 was paid for the herd. Seventy-five cowboys made the last round-up, which was a work of tremendous difficulties, and took two months. Only three times in six weeks of daily drives did the cowboys succeed in getting any of the buffalo into the corrals. The buffalo, when they found themselves being driven from their native pastures, turned on the cowboys. Many horses were killed, and many cowboys injured. Finally fences 26 miles long, converging to the corrals at Ravalli, Montana, were built, and the buffalo were gradually brought together. From Ravalli they traveled by railway to the reserve provided for them near Wainwright, where they have increased and multiplied, until they now number some 7,000. It was announced from Ottawa last week that the Department of “Their Last Drink on Their Native range, Half Mile from the Shipping Corrals at Ravalli, Montana.” the Interior has in contemplation the killing of about 1,000 of them, to keep the reserve at Wainwright from being overcrowded.

The accompanying illustration is reproduced from a photograph made during the round-up in Montana in 1906. On the back of the photograph is written: “Their Last Drink on Their Native range, Half Mile from the Shipping Corrals at Ravalli, Montana.”

Old Timer Samuel Walking Coyote - Old Timer Signature





The Winnipeg Tribune
Jan. 19 1929

It was while Mr. Douglas was Banff superintendent that he was inspired with the thought that Canada should have Buffalo back on the plains where they were once roamed in their millions. He had already secured three buffalo for the Banff park as a curiosity for tourists to gaze at.

At this time, almost unknown to the authorities of Washington or Ottawa, a little herd was building up in the Montana Hills of the Blackfeet reserve. It is recorded that years before, one Walking Coyote, a full-blooded Indian, had wintered with the Piegan Indians on the Milk River in Southern Alberta. He succeeded in capturing four buffalo calves, two bulls and two heifers. Keeping them hidden until spring, he led them through the mountains back to the Blackfeet reserve in Montana. Here unmolested for years, the little herd grew and multiplied. In the meantime Michel Pablo, wealthy rancher, had purchased them and Coyote had died in the consequent flood of booze.