(From the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, March 4, 2017)

I grew up along the edges of the Little Bighorn Battlefield Shane article National Monument. The history of this place coursed through my upbringing and forms a crucial part of who I am as an Apsaalooké (Crow) person. I often lead tours there now and relate the story of the battle that occurred in 1876 between Custer’s Seventh Cavalry and Plains Indian warriors. There’s no doubt that this battle was a defining event in the history of our country and our state.

Three-hundred and twenty-one thousand people visited the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in 2015. According to the National Park Service, those visitors spent an estimated $18.2 million in local gateway regions, supporting more than 300 jobs in the area and accounting for $23.6 million in economic output. While the location is a beautiful one, I’m quite confident that few of those visitors came to the Little Bighorn for the scenery. They came because the monument, like so many other national monuments, tells the story of who are and where we come from – as Native Americans, as European Americans, as Montanans.

National monuments have been made possible almost always through the Antiquities Act, a few times by Congress. A central pillar of Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy, the Antiquities Act gives U.S. presidents the authority to create national monuments – that is, to set aside and safeguard public lands with significant natural, cultural, historical, and scientific value. In the past 110 years, 16 presidents – eight Democrats and eight Republicans – have used the Antiquities Act to designate around 130 national monuments.

Our new secretary of the interior and a self-proclaimed Roosevelt conservationist, Ryan Zinke said during his confirmation hearing that one of his first orders of business will be to visit our nation’s newest national monument, Bears Ears. He’ll do so at the behest of Utah’s congressional delegation and governor, all of whom are gunning to have the designation revoked, as well as to dispose of our public lands entirely.

Bears Ears contains one of the greatest concentrations of archaeological sites in the world. Located in southern Utah’s canyon country, Bears Ears is spectacularly scenic. But, like the Little Bighorn, it’s also extraordinarily historical and even sacred. Contrary to the false rhetoric of Utah’s political leaders, its designation occurred as a result of a groundswell among tribal members and leaders in the area who, for decades, could do little but stand by as pot hunters, looters, and grave robbers desecrated and plundered ruins and artifacts that constitute their heritage. If any place ever fit the need for and purpose of protection through the Antiquities Act, Bears Ears is it.

As an educator and Crow tribal member, I’m calling on Secretary Zinke to respect the designation of Bear Ears. Revoking or reducing Bears Ears would set a precedent that would have destructive repercussions well beyond Utah and put other national monuments at risk, including those in Montana. It would mean caving to and emboldening Utah Congressman Rob Bishop and other anti-public land extremists who have asked President Trump to revoke or shrink all Clinton and Obama-era monuments and who are currently sponsoring legislation that would gut the Antiquities Act.

Catch a video with Shane made by Alexis Bonogofsky here.

MSU Students Create a Dumpster Museum
by Brittany Hackwell – MSU History Undergraduate

As a self-dubbed museum enthusiast, much of my time is spent at, looking up, or thinking about exhibits. So when my professor for my Public History: The World At War mentioned that we would be creating a pop-up museum for Montana State University’s campus, I immediately perked up. The limits we were given consisted of a budget, and that the project had to do with Montana and World Wars. Ideas started to get thrown around, we started with simple posters being hung in one of the halls, which moved to a makeshift structure holding our posters, which somehow managed to turn into using a dumpster. The idea seemed ridiculous; but ridiculous enough that we all liked it.

During the first few weeks of the planning, we worked hard to create a base idea for our museum. We decided to title our museum “Montana During The World Wars”, and split up into groups that would then create mini-exhibits. While at first I struggled to decide on a topic that would interest me enough, I ultimately decided on, and was assigned, to the Native American in the World Wars group. This topic proved especially difficult due to the lack of well-kept records in the state, so we eventually extended our project to soldiers who had any kind of connection to Montana. Our mini-exhibit featured information on Chief Plenty Coups, Joseph Medicine Crow, Joseph Oklahombi, the code talkers in WWI, and Private Ira Hayes who was one of the six soldiers in the famous “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima” by Joe Rosenthal.

One of the groups in the class’s focus was on the structure itself. That was the group to really come up with, create, and eventually implement the structure. Within this project, they decided to somehow use the structure to include information on the structures of the war, namely trenches, from my understanding. That quickly snowballed into an impressive idea to use a massive dumpster to somehow show the realities within the hardships of the wars.

Over the next few months, we spent one class period per week working in our groups on our topics. The idea that this information that I was responsible for putting together would be reaching people who 1) weren’t my professor, and 2) may have little to no previous knowledge on this topic, and my poster could potentially be the first, or strongest, information they would receive and store was more motivation than I realized. Never before had I really considered that the work I did for research, and the effort I put into this, could affect other’s education and knowledge. Seeing as this was a Public History class, realizing all this was part of the curriculum, but for a hopeful museum curator, it was vital. After months of pouring our hearts into this research, and hours of attempting to create an informational, but equally aesthetic poster, I, along with the rest of my class I can assume, took a deep breath and submitted them all for printing.

native-americans-in-the-world-wars
On one of the last class days of the semester, the dumpster was on campus, and was eliciting a decent response from those who had no clue what was going on. We spent the class period, and some time afterwards, mounting our posters and our title, and seeing the finished product. The trench had been created by a team pulled together over the weekend, and was better than I would have ever expected. The floor was covered in boards, so walking through there in even the sturdiest of shoes was treacherous. It had boards set up so you could step up and see over the top of the trench, and look out on the battlefield (AKA MSU’s mall). The group had also included pictures, stories, boxes, and more miscellaneous items that added to the theme. The weather was a toasty 15 degrees, and there were piles of snow scattered throughout the trench, so Montana’s weather helped accentuate the feel and look of the trench.

Various social media accounts were created for this museum, a number of articles throughout the history community in Bozeman were featured, and we all worked to have this project spread by word of mouth. Tons of people saw the dumpster, many read the posters, and quite a few went through the trench and were able to leave Montana and finals week for just a moment as they experienced a (safe) version of a WWI trench, something very few would ever be able to experience, or even imagine.

This class had us reading a number of books and articles spanning from Christianity and propaganda in WWI to the modern day argument of religious rights on planes. On top of that, we all became experts in our own topics as we spent hours upon hours stressing over our projects. Up until then, while I understood the importance of informal education, I had only ever been on the receiving end of it. Now, I have gotten a glimpse of the difficult, detailed work that goes into getting even the smallest amount of information out. The concern that some of the information may not be completely accurate, or worded well enough to get the point across. This is the information people very easily could assume as gospel truth, and to have that power, and responsibility, to provide nothing but accuracy and ease of understanding, while also trying to create something worth looking at at all, is a hefty weight.

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Image  —  Posted: March 2, 2017 by extremehistory in Uncategorized

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Image  —  Posted: January 26, 2017 by extremehistory in Uncategorized

Fort Parker Purchase Finalized!

Posted: March 30, 2016 by extremehistory in Uncategorized

The Extreme History Project Announces that the Archaeological Conservancy has Finalized the Purchase of the site of Fort Parker, the First Crow Indian Agency. 

Bozeman, MT, 3/17/2016: The Extreme History ProjectFort Parker 2 is excited to announce that the Archaeological Conservancy has finalized the purchase of Fort Parker, the First Crow Agency. The agency, which lies just 9 miles east of Livingston, MT along Mission Creek, was built in 1869 and functioned until 1875 when it was moved to a site near Absarokee, MT on the Stillwater River. The history of Fort Parker is directly related to the development of Bozeman, MT, the creation of Yellowstone as the first national park and the movement of Montana Territory to Statehood.

More importantly, though, Fort Parker represents the first stage of enforced governmental intrusion into the lives of the Crow People. Though the agency was established by treaty as a distribution point for government goods promised the Crows in exchange for their government appropriated lands, it was also meant to transition these traditional buffalo hunters to a life of settled agriculture – a drastic change in lifestyle, still felt on the Crow Reservation today. “There are mixed emotions when discussing Fort Parker,” shared George Reed, Crow Cultural Committee Chairman, “somewhere between Fort Parker and Livingston is the place, Bisshiilannuusaao, where the Apsáalooke placed the government issued rations and the khaki army blankets on the ground and burned them, somehow they found out they were festered with the small pox germ.  When the bison herds were annihilated that was the beginning of the end of the Apsáalooke way of life that ended our nomadic lifestyle.  We relied on the bison for everything, when they moved on to better pasture we took down our tepees and followed them.  When the bison were gone our warriors could no longer go on war parties to prove their worth, leadership was earned, this changed our form of government, it also changed our diet from natural foods to beef and rations which has drastic effect, the most effected were the pregnant women our infantile mortality rate was very high.”

It is this history that makes the purchase of Fort Parker so significant. It is one of the first sites of the early reservation period of the Plains’ Tribes to be nationally recognized as an important historic site. This offers the long-awaited recognition of this dark period in our country’s history, the legacy of which is still felt today in Native American reservations across the Plains.

“We’ve purchased 15 acres along the creek.” noted Jim Walker, Southeast Director of the Archaeological Conservancy, The Conservancy’s purchase includes the extant remains of the agency building’s foundations and the adjacent stone construction known as ‘Kennelly’s Castle,’ which was constructed at a later period after the Fort was abandoned. Walker went on to insure that the site was now under perpetual protection from any purchase or development. The site will be fenced with access given by request through the Conservancy for educational and cultural programs. The Crow tribe will have unlimited and unregulated access to the site, which is still considered sacred as many ancestors lived, died and were buried at Fort Parker.

Emerson Bull Chief, Crow Tribal Historic Preservation Officer expressed the Tribe’s feelings about having this site preserved. “It is good that the Archeology Conservancy has made this purchase to preserve this historical site. For the Apsáalooke, history doesn’t begin at the Fort, our connection stretches back beyond 2500 years ago. The landscapes still hold the scars of our fasting beds, the names of places that are still used today and the final resting places of our ancestors. Although the Fort represented the darker times of Euro-American interaction with Native Americans, it is also an acknowledgement by the United States for the Western boundary of the Apsáalooke territorial homeland. In that sense, the Crow Tribal Historic Preservation Office supports The Extreme History Project and the Archeology Conservancy in the purchase, protection, and preservation of this important historic site.”

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Aerial photo of  the site of Fort Parker along Mission Creek

Marsha Fulton and Crystal Alegria of the Extreme History Project approached the Archaeological Conservancy in 2010 to look into the possibility of preserving the site. Livingston resident and Conservancy board member Roddy Stanton was instrumental in bringing Jim Walker to the table to start the conversation. Landowners Zena Dell Lowe, Darcy Lebeau and Rob Stephens of the Mission Ranch were enthusiastic about working with the Conservancy to insure the site’s protection, a place very significant to their late mother who owned the site up to her passing in 2011. “The family had taken excellent care of the site,” offered Marsha Fulton of the Extreme History Project, “and we were confident that in their hands the site would have remained protected and respected. However, if the property were to ever change hands, the site on private land would have been endangered. We all wanted to insure that this important historical place was honored, interpreted and preserved for future generations. Not only because it is significant to the history of Montana and the West, but because it is a place of sacred memory to the Crow Nation.”

The Archaeological Conservancy will manage and administer the site and the Extreme History Project in partnership with the Crow Tribal Cultural Committee, will create educational and interpretive programming about Fort Parker’s history. Fulton and Alegria have been compiling the documented history of the site and conducting oral histories with Crow tribal members to create a comprehensive database of historical materials. They are currently writing a book on the history of the site and intend to make all of their research materials accessible to the public in an online database.

“We are honored to facilitate the sharing of the Fort Parker story with everyone,” noted Fulton, “as it reminds us all of this painful history that we all share, though it’s not often told.”

 

Nevada Original Map

 

Click the picture above to see our Story Map of the Nevada City Cemetery

From sticks to the stars, technology has had a huge impact upon the human race. Today we often take for granted that we can get from Point A to B (and C, D, E, & F) using our phone, tablet, or GPS device. With the old, new and developing technologies we can also see into the past.

I am finishing my final semester at MSU this spring and have had the opportunity to not only foster my love of archaeology but also to really sink my teeth into the geospatial sciences with a minor in GIS. The sciences include GPS (Global Positioning System), GIS (Geographic Information System/Science), and Remote Sensing (measuring various wavelengths of the EM (Electromagnetic) Field) and more. In the summer of 2015 I was afforded the opportunity to be the GPS/GIS Project Lead for our Nevada City Cemetery Mapping Project. Through this I have been able to put into practice what I have been studying the past few years and be able to combine it with my passion for archaeology.

When you click below the link or picture below you will be taken to the ArcGIS Story Map page I created using the GPS information we gathered this past summer at the Nevada City Cemetery located in Madison County Montana. Actually the Story Map was to be about everyone buried in the cemetery when I realized that to truly tell the stories of those in the cemetery we would have to do something different. So the Story Map I made became the story of The Extreme History Project’s journey to tell the story of the people interred in the Nevada City Cemetery.

In order to truly to tell the tales of the residents at Nevada City Cemetery we are applying for funding to not only finish the mapping, sketching, and determination of the preservation status of the remaining graves but also to create in depth maps and information for each resident easily accessible by anyone. If you are interested in helping out with either your time or funding, please let us know!

I have thoroughly enjoyed being able to use what I have learned to reach into the past and I think it would be wonderful to be able to do that around the state. We have so many cemeteries and small graveyards all around Montana and it would be extraordinary to be able to map out everything and everyone.

One of the many, many benefits of using GIS for this project is that with all of the information we acquire we will be able to create searches and maps to see how many people died (according to the graves) in 1910-1920 and where they are located or how many women are buried and where. If we can also obtain the various ethnicities of the interred as well we would be able to chart where people died and see if we can find certain trends. With GIS there are so many possibilities including being able to link with other sets of data from around the state and country and being able to possibly map out patterns. This has been so amazing and I am so thrilled be a part of the Nevada City Cemetery Project.

Again, if you are interested in helping out in any way, please let us know!

Thanks for stopping by!

Nevada City Cemetery Story Map! Come take a look!

 

 

GPS, GIS and Archaeology:

The Beginning of a Beautiful, and Sometimes Complicated, Relationship

In the Mapping of the Nevada City Cemetery in Madison County Montana

By John W. Olson

Part 2

            Happy New Year (a little belatedly) and I hope everyone is doing amazing! I wanted to continue on with the post (a little belatedly) about the Nevada City Cemetery Project and spend some time talking about how this project came into being.

It began a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far……wait, wrong story! (I’m a geek)

Like many things in life, it began by chance. We go back a couple years, Spring 2014, to when our founders, Marsha Fulton and Crystal Alegria, were made aware of an effort to find the Hebrew Cemetery in Virginia City, Montana. The search for the cemetery was lead by Jeff MacDonald, Lead Preservation Specialist for the Montana Heritage Commission and Riley Augé, Adjunct Professor at University of Montana. Through this Extreme History became aware of the lack of a plat map for the Nevada City Cemetery. Apparently, some time during the 1970’s or 1980’s the original plat map for the cemetery was loaned out and never returned.

Extreme History Project teamed up with Project Archaeology for a week-long teacher’s workshop in Virginia City. Project Archaeology offers workshops to help teachers implement their archaeology-based curriculum in the K-12 classroom and “Project Archaeology gives students a basic understanding of how archaeology works and teaches them to respect and protect our nation’s rich cultural heritage.”

Teaming up with Project Archaeology, The Extreme History Project created a new aspect for the teacher’s workshop in which the teachers would begin the mapping and documenting of the Nevada City Cemetery.   Information that would be collected would be very comprehensive and would include the status and description of the cemetery, orientation of markers, names of stone carvers, the conditions of the markers and much, much more as well as sketches of each grave.

Marshas map (1)

Marsha Fulton made the above map by hand when the project first began to separate the Nevada City Cemetery into smaller “chunks” which would help us identify, map, and categorize each of the graves. In the summer of 2014 the teacher’s workshop made huge strides in the mapping and documentation of graves located in Sections 1-3.

In Spring of 2015, during a weekly meeting at the Extreme History Project office, the idea of GPS mapping of the graves was introduced. It was thought using GPS mapping would be a great step in possibly creating a plat map for the cemetery or at the very least provide an accurate map to Nevada City to help in future burials.

Also discussed was the possibility of taking all of the information obtained (GPS, sketches of graves, info on graves, etc.) and providing it as an interactive web site available to everyone. One of the biggest aspects of this was getting ahold of any stories from friends and family members of the people interred and with their permission sharing the stories on the web. Stories of people who came to Nevada City either to strike it rich, or following family members, and even people that never intended to stick around yet became founding members of the area. Stories of real people doing amazing things.

It is amazing that archaeology, history and the internet can allow us a much deeper peek into our ancestors and ourselves.

Next week I will talk about our first GPS survey.