Posts Tagged ‘Environment’

Indian Tribes of Montana – A Proud Heritage

November 7th, 2022

The first people to inhabit the area now known as Montana were members of nomadic tribes that supplemented their diets with native plants and sustained their existence by hunting buffalo and other mammals. Following the buffalo herds,Guest Posting these first people crossed the Bering Strait from Asia approximately 12,000 years ago and over time migrated southward. Archaeologists have verified evidence of a thriving tribal culture established west of the Rocky Mountains more than 9,000 years ago.

Before the white man came west, Indian people roamed freely across this great land, following the gigantic buffalo herds that once covered the plains. For hundreds of years the native peoples relied on the buffalo for food, clothing and shelter. The bison was revered among the Indian Tribes as a bountiful gift from the Creator and were thus hunted with reverence and respect.

The area now known as Montana was inhabited by two major groups of Indian tribes. The Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Crow, Assiniboine, Atsina and Arapaho tribes lived on the south and eastern grassy plains. The rugged western mountains were the home of the Shoshone, Bannack, Kalispell, Flathead and Kootenai tribes. The Dakota, Sioux and the Nez Perce tribes entered Montana at times to hunt and dispatch war parties, but were not permanent residents of the State.

With the arrival of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the first decade of the 19th century, the traditional way of life of Montana Indians became increasingly threatened. By the mid-1880′s, the federal government began to deal formally with the tribes, entering into treaties that assigned tribes to certain designated areas and obligated them to respect the land boundaries of their neighbors. However, the mining “booms” of the 1860′s fractured these fragile arrangements as miners rushed into the lucrative gold fields that often lay adjacent to or within the designated tribal lands. These new “settlers” demanded federal protection, thus beginning the garrisoning of Montana and the eventual forced relocation of the tribes to smaller and smaller reservations.

The combination of “tribal” and “nation” best encapsulates essential aspects of both the historical and contemporary identity of Indian communities in Montana. There are nine principal tribal groups living on seven reservations in Montana. Three of the reservations are inhabited by more than one tribal group.

Traveling Southwest Montana

March 30th, 2022

Southwest Montana is not about the glamour of National Parks, its more about ghost towns of days gone by from the mining days of the late 1800′s. These miners were more interested in extracting riches from below the ground than building structures to withstand time; however, remnants still stand today, giving us a glimpse back in time to the miner’s dreams of striking it rich or the saloon girl’s hopes for better days. Now the remaining buildings and mines in these towns tells a story and holds a place in Montana’s history.

Garnet ghost town high in the Garnet Mountain Range is Montana’s most intact ghost town where in the 1860′s gold-bearing quartz was discovered. Being in such a remote place, the miners faced many challenges without the use of heavy equipment. Even getting there today, using the route the miners took can be on the challenging side, for the Cave Gulch road is a steep one-lane bumpy dirt road up the side of the mountain with switchbacks; however, the beautiful scenery of the valley below makes the drive worthwhile.

In 1862 gold was discovered in Grasshopper Creek; as a result, the town of Bannack was founded. As the word spread miners and businessmen flocked to the town site hoping to strike it rich. Due to the growth and sudden wealth, Bannack was named the first Territorial Capital of Montana in 1864; however, a short time later the capital was moved to Virginia City. From the 1860′s to the 1930′s Bannack thrived as a mining town, by 1950 most people had left, leaving Bannack a ghost town with over 60 structures from the late 1800′s for future generations to see what a gold-miners’ life was like.

The deepest pride and affection for Virginia City, the most colorful pioneer mining camp with dramatic tales of the early days that ever existed is shared by all of Montana. The area was so rich in gold that small communities sprang up everywhere with Virginia City and Nevada City being the main hubs for trade. For ten years from 1865 to 1875 the town of Virginia City was named the Territorial Capital of Montana, but like most things, the gold ran out leaving just enough to keep the homes and business occupied; as a result, the town froze in time as an old west Victorian town. Today Virginia City and the surrounding area is rich with natural beauty, recreation and history.

Montana’s history isn’t all about fame and fortune, a form of justice had to be upheld for the bands of outlaws which roamed early Montana Territory leaving a trail of destruction. On July 2, 1871 the stout iron bars slammed shut for the first time in Montana’s Territorial Prison in Deer Lodge, now the Old Prison Museum displays a chilling glimpse of what life was like from behind bars, a sentinel of law enforcement dedicated to justice. Behind the turreted stone towers and iron gates is the intimidating main cell block, built by prisoners using 1.2 million self-made bricks. Walking the isles in the cell block with the slide bar cells and black box used for maximum security will send chills down one’s spine.

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