509 Montana Street
PO Box 2
Valier, Montana 59486
Medicine River Trading Company  1-406-289-0258

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Jack "Lame Bear" Smith

Historical Lecturer

Jack Smith has been a lecturer and historic re-enactor for more than 30 years. He specializes in the period of American history from 1700-1850.  During his career, he has spoken to more than 25,000 people about this period in our country’s history.  Being of a Native American (a direct decendant of Comanche Chief Quanah Parker) - European heritage, he brings a unique slant to this time.  “Walking in two worlds means that you have to be aware that everything you learn has two points of view.   That is one reason I have always attempted to look a little farther than the text books to find out what really happened in this country’s past”, says Smith.

During his career, Jack initiated and carried to the California Legislature a bill to honor Jedidiah Smith, famed explorer and mountain man, who with a group of fur trappers became the first Americans to successfully enter California over land from the East in 1826.  This bill was successfully passed and today California recognizes “Jedidiah Smith Day” each year.

He has presented living history programs in Montana, California, and Fort Clatsop on the Oregon coast.  He has worked as a technical advisor, along with the late Pat Tierny of the Museum of the Fur Trade in Chadron, Nebraska, on such films as “Jeremiah Johnson” - starring Robert Redford and “The Mountain Men” - starring Brian Keith and Charlton Hesston.  He built costumes and props for the movies “Centennial”, “Walks Far Woman”, and “Little Big Man”.

Jack was the original technical advisor for the group which became the “Lewis and Clark Honor Guard”.  He appeared with that group for four years, helping to raise money towards the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, which opened in 1998, in Great Falls, Montana.

For more than 20 years, Jack has pursued the study of one man - Toussaint Charbonneau. More than a footnote in history, he has found that the much maligned Charbonneau was a focal character in several facets of the history of the American West, and may well have had his own reasons for being with Lewis and Clark's Corp of Discovery.

Additional First Person Interpretations

Starting in 2006, Jack added 3 additional historical characters to his repertoire. Like Charbonneau, each is a first person visit with some of the men who actually lived and breathed. Audiences can meet, first person, who saw the growth of the American West first hand.  Jack as Bill Sublette

From Lewis and Clark, the War of 1812, the rise of the American Fur Trade, the Civil War, the coming of  the Cowboy and of course the effect on the Native American population. They will even find out what a fine line existed between the Law and the Lawless.

As Charbonneau ushered us into the period when only a few white European men had even seen the West; the West of the trapper and the voyager, Bill Sublette takes time travelers into the world of the Mountain Men of the American and Rocky Mountain Fur Companies. They will meet his friends like Jedidiah Smith, Jim Baker and Jim Bridger. They will see how fortunes were made and hero and legends were grown and died.

John Wilson Goodbody was a man born into a time of revolt and war from the Brazos River in the Republic of Texas. He takes listeners through the years of Civil War as a member of the 8th Texas Cavalry and Shannon's Scouts. His return to Texas found a land full of carpetbaggers and cows, but now hard cash. And so "Yulee" Goodbody would become what he would be for the rest of his life, a Cowboy. Pushing cows to Montana, fighting Indians, outlaws and the land. He, and the other Cowboys would be the backbone of cattle industry in Montana. Along the way he would meet the likes of a young horse wrangler with a puncheon for drawing named Charles Marion Russell.

Johann Gustav Nachtlinger,  A.K.A. Gus Nightlinger, born in post Civil War Pennsylvania, Gus will serve in the Army, Chase Apaches, and finally become a Lawman. Along the way he would also become a professional gambler, marry and raise a family of 5 children in Montana. He meets good guys and outlaws the likes of Tom Horn, Robert Leroy Parker (Butch Cassidy), Harry Longabaugh (The Sundance Kid), Wyatt Earp and Harvey Logan (Kid Curry). He'll take you though times when lawmen were outlaws and outlaws were preachers kids. When boomtowns boomed and died away.

As with all of Jack's one man shows, audience will see the tools and weapons of daily life for each and every character.

Jack will travel almost anywhere (no inter-terrestrial bookings at this time).   Ask him about Skype in the Classroom (no travel expenses for you to cover)!
Feel free to contact us for speaking fees and and booking dates available.

Interpreting Toussaint Charbonneau

What is the truth?

Useless rogue, or valued interpreter? Loving husband and father, or wife beating drunkard?  Agent of the new American government or spy for the British? After 25 years of research Jack Smith presents insights into this complex man, with an engaging first person conversation with this amazing historical character.

Through his presentation Smith and Toussaint explore the people and biases which were apart of the early days of the fledgling United States.  Through their eyes audiences receive a new insight into Lewis and Clark, Thomas Jefferson, Sacagawea and the native Americans that were the cast of characters in the birth of this great nation.

Ask most people who was this man “Toussaint Charbonneau “ and they probably will scratch their heads and admit that they haven’t an idea. Some may finally be able to draw from their memory that he was a some sort of trapper that was married to Sacagawea. Even most historians would say that he was a minor character in either the Lewis and Clark Expedition or the early history of the American West. “A man of little value”, according to Meriwether Lewis. And yet if one looks deeper into the history of this country a completely different picture emerges. One of a man who played a key roll in the early western exploration or the United States.

Through the writings of other individuals, we can begin to develop an intricate tapestry of knowledge about a man that tried to bridge two very different worlds. The world of the European American and the native peoples who called this land home for generations prior to the coming of the white man.

We find a man that spoke for the government of this country to the Indian nations for more than 30 years, a man who became a life-long associate of William Clark, a man who was so important to this nation that in the eyes of the British he was deserving to have a bounty on his head as an American agent, a man who very well may have been a spy.

Why then did Meriwether Lewis see him as a man of “no value”? Could it be that Lewis carried biases that clouded his perspective of the man?

25 years of searching for the real Toussaint Charbonneau.

Interpreter and historian Jack Smith has devoted more than 25 years of his life seeking the truth about this historical enigma.

Like most serious historians Smith started with the journals of Lewis and Clark’s Expedition. But early on he began to realize that these documents presented varied rendition of the man, and that most damning was the journals of Meriwether Lewis. So why wasn’t there a journal of Toussaint Charbonneau and could there have been reasons for Lewis’ dislike of this man? Finally there came 2 realizations. First, that Lewis did harbor his own demons toward both Frenchmen and Indians. And secondly ...that Toussaint’s side of the story was never set to journal...because Toussaint Charbonneau could not write.

So began the laborious task of seeking the writings of others “about” this man Charbonneau. More than 20 years later, Jack Smith has developed a profile of Toussaint and given it a life of it’s own in his one-man presentations. Through his characterization of Charbonneau he has allowed thousands of people to discover that this wily Frenchman was far more than just “Sacagawea’s husband”.

Audiences are allowed to meet a flesh and blood Charbonneau and to see the world as he saw it. The presentation is complete with all the “tools of the trade” to allow hands-on experiences for the viewers. Presentation can be tailored to specific lengths from one hour to several days.

For complete information, including presentation fees and scheduling , please email jack@medicineriver.com

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