Box Elder was named for the creek, which in turn was named for the box elder trees that line its banks. The town serves as headquarters for the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation. The Rocky Boys are often called "the landless Indians;" they came from Canada in the 1870s and lived first around the Assiniboine and the Bear Paw foothills. Later they scattered over other parts of Montana. These Indians, also called Metis, come from a northern tribe of Chippewa-Cree.
The townsite for Box Elder was laid of by Jonas Breemer, Leader of forty Ohio families that were brought in by the railroad company to settle. These homesteaders asked Mr. Cowan to move his store from Cypress, which he did in June 1889. The hot, dry summers of 1889 and 1890 discourages most of the Ohioans, and all but two families left (Trial and Triumph). Mr. Cowan bought buffalo bones from the Indians for $6 a ton and shipped them east to St. Louis for use in refining sugar. (from Cheney's Names on the Face of Montana, Mountain Press Publishing Company)
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