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John James Audubon


In 1843, naturalist John James Audubon spent the summer at Fort Union collecting mammal specimens. Until his departure from the region on this date, it was up to the fort superintendent, Alexander Culbertson, to ensure Audubon's visit was a success.

Shortly after arriving, Culbertson promised to secure a wolf for his visitor. Within hours, one was spotted near the fort. As the naturalist watched, Culbertson mounted his horse and took off across the prairie. The trader quickly gained on the animal, following it into a small ravine. Audubon heard gunfire and as he described in his journal, "the wolf was picked up by Mr. Culbertson without dismounting, hardly slackening his pace, and thrown across the saddle." The whole affair was, he wrote, "handsomely executed." Back at the fort, Culbertson presented the wolf to the appreciative naturalist.

Dakota Datebook written by Christina Sunwall


Audubon, John James, Maria R. Audubon, and Elliott Coues. Audubon and His Journals Vol. 2. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1897.

Wischmann, Lesley. Frontier Diplomats: Alexander Culbertson and Natoyist-Siksina' among the Blackfeet. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2004.