Natawista (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: After marrying Major Alexander Culbertson, Natawista became an interpreter, diplomat, and trading post hostess.
When she was fifteen years old, Natawista accompanied her father, Men-Es-To-Kos, on a trading voyage from their home in Alberta to Fort Union on the Missouri River, near the North Dakota-Montana border. There she married Alexander Culbertson, the fort commander, in an Indian ceremony. Four of their children lived to adulthood; two daughters married white easterners, while two sons remained in the West to work as traders.
During the early years of her marriage, from 1840 to 1845, Natawista resided at Fort Union, acting as hostess and diplomat. In 1845, the Culbertsons moved farther north along the Missouri, establishing Fort Benton in Montana. There, Natawista functioned as an interpreter for several Indian tribes, including the Blackfoot, Blood, and Gros Ventre, while simultaneously acting as hostess to visiting white traders.
After his appointment as special agent to the Blackfoot Confederacy in 1847, Culbertson and Natawista traveled to Indian camps throughout the territory. Natawista again assisted her husband by acting as interpreter and diplomat. On several occasions, she diffused tensions and helped maintain peace.
Retiring to Peoria, Illinois, in 1858, the Culbertsons were married in a Roman Catholic ceremony. In Peoria they lived extravagantly for ten years before...
(The entire section is 242 words.)
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