The wilderness plains north of the “Medicine Line” possessed relatively untouched bison herds in the early 1870s. The Ft. Benton “Merchant Princes of the Upper Missouri” (I. G. Baker, the Conrad Brothers, Hamilton, Healy, Power, etc.) devised a plan to wrestle the hides from these herds and from the last Blackfeet stronghold. This was it.
Construct a series of whiskey trading “forts,” get the natives using and dependent on the drug and let them slaughter the buffalo to trade for more whiskey. (The slogan of the I. G. Baker Company was “We’ll sell anything to anybody.”) Since the Royal Canadian Mounted Police hadn’t yet been formed, there was “no law and order up north of the border.” A devious “bonus dividend” of this plan was that, in the drunken orgies that ensued, Blackfeet would kill Blackfeet, thereby reducing the probability of a U.S. Army/Blackfeet Nation showdown. The U.S. Army, under the supervision of General Philip Sheridan, was legally required to halt this drug smuggling across Indian lands. They did not.
In 1874, the RCMP was formed specifically to run the American whiskey dealers out of Western Canada. They did. Ironically, the financial kingpin of the illicit whiskey trade, the I. G. Baker Company of Ft. Benton, Montana, promptly secured the contract to supply the Mounties in their new headquarters in Ft. Macleod. I’m not kidding...
After the Civil War blood bath was over,
anxious eyes refocused on the West
Gold fields were calling, big timber was falling,
many young men’s dreams were addressed
Some forged toward virgin valleys and canyons
Some forced un-pretty plans upon the Plains
To where there were bison, wild herds without end...
They were looking for the Whoop-Up Trail
Were loaded for the Whoop-Up Trail
Steamboats switched cargo in bustlin’ Ft. Benton,
Merchandise upriver to be sold
Big bales of buffalo robes then were taken
down river to St. Louis with the gold
U.S. authorities made law for the Red Man
The whiskey trading scabs were told to move on
to the “no law and order land” north of the line
They went slippin’ down the Whoop-Up Trail
Went boundin’ down the Whoop-Up Trail
“Show me the money” was the song of the Merchant Princes
Darkness descended in their reign
General Sheridan’s “Final Solution”
Was unleashed to subjugate the Plains...
Merchant Princes of Darkness Boy’s Choir:
No law and order up north of the border
No law and order up north of the line
Show me the money, build me a robe mine
Show me the money, go north of the line
We’ll sell anything to any man, gold is in the vault
What happens when the sun goes down, hell, it’s not our fault.
Hell is not our fault!
After the buffalo robe rush was over
reservation refugees were left
Merchants restructured, their green sacks of clover were
funneled into banks and politics
The trickster stumbles off in drunken stupor
Lost is the freedom of ten thousand years
A sober reflection in history’s glass
Lookin’ down the Whoop-Up Trail
We’ve bounded down the Whoop-Up Trail
We're bounding down the Whoop-Up
Children of the Whoop-Up Trail