Francis X. Guardipee (Ah-koo-in-slak-mi) Big Lodgepole (1885-1970)

Francis "Frank" Xavier Guardipee was born on November 4, 1885 on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation at the Old Agency on Badger Creek. He was the son of Old Eli and Sadie Guardipee and the grandson of Jean Baptiste Guardipee and Judith Guardipee. His famous father Eli was a friend and companion of James Willard Schultz. In Schultz's book describing their float trip down the Missouri River, he said that Eli was the best shot he had ever seen, white man or Indian. [1] Though of French, Cree, and Shoshoni origin, Eli was married into the Blackfeet tribe and became one of its' principal authorities on tribal lore and history as did Frank later in life.

Frank first attended the Jesuitrun school at the Holy Family Mission on the Two Medicine River. Later he attended the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania. That was the first federallyfunded, offreservation, Indian boarding school located on a military reservation. Frank learned to manage and synthesize the two cultures within himself. While at Carlisle, Frank played football under coach "Pop" Warner, who later became the football coach at Stanford University. [2] According to the Hungry Horse News, Frank was "a 10-second man in the 100-yard dash." [3]

During a trip to Atlanta, Georgia for a Shriners Convention in 1914, most likely a trip promoted by Louis Hill (owner of the Great Northern Railway), Frank was given the name "Ah koo in slak mi" (Big Lodge Pole) by Chief Two Guns White Calf, Bird Rattler, and other tribal elders. This name refers to the main pole in a tipi that provides support to the entire structure. He was 29 years of age. [2]

In the following years, Frank traveled and had many adventures. For a time, he drove a taxi in New York City, a sightseeing bus in Denver, worked for the American Museum of Natural History, and was reportedly a cast member in the silent Western film, "The Covered Wagon," released by Paramount Pictures in 1923. [2]

Career Highlights

His impact, influence, contributions to the Blackfeet Tribe, State of Montana, the National Park Service, his church, and the countless thousands of youth on the Blackfeet Reservation and elsewhere is hard to fathom. He was long famed as an outstanding speaker and motivator with his strong, deep voice.

*In 1916, he founded Boy Scout Troop 100 in Browning, Montana, believed to the first Native American troop in Montana. Frank led Troop 100 for more than half a century. No other Montanan had served the Boy Scouts for so long. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) bestowed two of their three highest awards in Scouting to Frank for his service and numerous other recognitions from his many thousands of hours for the good of young boys and all men whom he considered his brothers. [4]

+As a Scout leader, Frank attended many National BSA jamboree's representing the State of Montana and several International BSA Jamboree representing the United States. In 1947 he attended the 6th World Jamboree in Molsson, France, representing the United States. This event on the banks of the River Seine in France, had just been recently liberated, was named the Jamboree of Peace," being the first International Jamboree since 1941. It was attended by over 25,000 Scouts from more than 70 countries, including Frank and one of his scouts from Troop 100 by the name of Earl Old Person.

*Glacier National Park (GNP): Park Ranger from 1932 to his retirement at the end of 1947. He worked all over the Park. [6]

+He, his wife Alma, and son Francis X Guardipee Jr. (Gunner) spent most summers at Nyack and Flathead Ranger Stations, Lake McDonald, Two Medicine, and winters at East Glacier. Francis retired after 16 years in Glacier,

+Frank served on the Presidential Security detail consisting of Secret Service and Park Rangers for President Franklin D. Roosevelt's visit to GNP on August 5, 1934. He drove one of the security trucks immediately behind the President's car. [7]

*Knights of Columbus (KoC): Like the Scouts, Frank spent many decades serving the KoC in Montana.

+Grand Knight, Kalispell Council 1328, 1938-39; active member 1932-1942 [8].

+Charter member of the Cut Bank Council 2860, August 9, 1942 and active Honorary Life Member until his death. He served as Montana State Deputy in 1944-1945. [9]

+According to the Kalispell KoC, Frank "...not only was the 1st but probably the ONLY Native American that was ever elected as State Deputy in the entire US." [10]

+Frank was a Faithful Navigator of the 4th Degree. [10]

Achievements, Honors, and Recognitions

*In 1970, the American Indian Scouting Association created the Francis X. Guardipee Grey Wolf Award to recognize adults (American Indian and nonIndian) for distinguished service to American Indian youth. [11]

*Recipient of two of the three highest awards in the Boy Scouts of America for his great service; Silver Beaver and Silver Antelope awards. [11]

*In 1932 when Frank joined Glacier National Park as a Park Ranger he became the first Native American Ranger to work GNP and in the entire U.S. Park Service. [12]

+GNP: Received the Commendable Service Award, 1948. [6]

*Three years after Frank's death, the U.S. Board of Geographic Names approved a 7,682-feet elevation mountain on the Continental Divide in the Two Medicine Basin "Chief Lodgepole Peak" in Franks' honor. [13] The presentation was made by Glacier National Park's Superintendent, William J. Briggle, and Blackfeet tribal elders at the Starr School during the dance of the Black Lodge Society. [6]

*In recognition of Frank’s service to the Park, Glacier National Park featured his photographic image on their 2017 Annual Park Entrance Pass. [14]

*Authored the "Blackfeet Prayer," date unknown. [18]

Frank died of a stroke on February 10, 1970 and is buried in Willow Creek Cemetery, Glacier County, Montana. [15] His obituary reports "His constant effort was to lift up the members of his Tribe and he had no patience with a person, Indian or not, who did not help himself. He instilled in all he came in contact with the virtues of honesty, industry and determination. Rarely in the history of mankind has one person contributed so many thousands of hours for the good of young boys and all men whom he considered his brothers." [16] The Flathead Living Magazine stated, "A man of so many firsts and superlatives, it's safe to say he left behind much more than a mountain name." [17]


Land of Many Stories: The People and Histories of Glacier National Park, Curriculum User Guide, Education Office Montana Historical Society;

Jack Holterman, Who Was Who in Glacier Land, self-published, 2001.

Pony Tracks Newsletter of the Northwest Montana Posse of Westerners, Francis X. Guardipee, Akoinistami (Chief Lodgepole), Montanas Treasure from the Treasure State, Vol. 3, No. 6, July 10, 2016.

Flathead Living Magazine, The First Native American Ranger, the Overlooked Story of the Blackfeet Nation’s Francis X. Guardipee, a Cultural Pioneer in Glacier Park’s History, Fall 2016.

Glacier National Park, 2017 Glacier Entrance Pass Now Available, article in Flathead Valley local newspapers announcing GNP’s 2017 Annual Entrance Pass depicting an image of Francis X Guardipee in recognition of his serve to the Park.


1.James Willard Schultz, edited by Eugene Lee Stilliman, Floating on the Missouri, University of Oklahoma Press, 1979.

2.Jack Holterman, Who Was Who in Glacier Land, 2001, pgs. 95-96.

3.Mel Ruder, Editor, Hungry Horse News,

4.American Indian Scouting Association,

5.Blackfeet Tribal Archives, Browning, MT.

6.Glacier National Park Archives, West Glacier, MT.

7.Glacier National Park, Presidential Security Detail Report on President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Visit to GNP, August 5, 1934.

8.Kalispell Knights of Columbus Council 1328 Archives, Kalispell, MT.

9.Cut Bank Knights of Columbus Council 2860 Archives, Cut Bank, MT.

10. Email July 5, 2016; John J. Glen, PSD, Montana KoC, Executive Director.

11. Grey Wolf Award;

12. U.S. Government Memorandum, Deaths of Alumni, Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, February 18, 1970.

13. The Missoulian, May 4, 1973, page 19.

14. GNP 2017 Annual Park Pass:


15. Willow Creek Cemetery, Browning, Glacier County, Montana; Block 6, Row F and Row E, Grave 6.

16. Cut Bank Pioneer Press, Requiem Mass for Francis X. Guardipee, February 19, 1970.

17. FlatheadLivingMag:

18. Max Beard Family Collection, unpublished.

Blackfeet Prayer

“Give wisdom and understanding to my leaders. Protect my warriors and bring them back safe. Give to the young, love and contentment. Give health and long life to my old people, so that they may remain with us a long time. Make my enemy brave and strong, so that if defeated, I will not be ashamed. And give me knowledge, so I may have kindness for all. And let me live each day, so when my day is done, my prayer will not have been in vain. . . . . . Big Lodge Pole”