Social Studies

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Montana Mosaics: Capital Fight of 1884

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The fight over where to situate Montana's permanent capital was one of the ugliest and most corrupt in Montana's history. By 1894, the principal contenders had been reduced to two: Helena and Anaconda. Deep in the matrix of the contest was economic as well as political rivalry. William Andrews Clark was a financial power in Montana—a mining millionaire—and so was Marcus Daly, head of the Anaconda Copper Company. Their economic rivalry and affluence spilled beyond the confines of their corporate interests and permeated all Montana politics.

Montana Mosaic: Montana Industry - The Tourism Years

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A booming national post-WWII economy created a large American middle class with the means and desire to travel. With Montana’s wide open spaces, clean air, lovely mountains, camping, hunting and skiing, tourism became increasingly important to the state’s economy. Federal government investments in highways and in defense (particularly Cold War era missile silos) also dramatically impacted the state’s economy….and brought more visitors.

Montana Mosaic: Next Generations in Indian Country

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In some ways the Indian Boarding Schools did exactly what they set out to do - break the cycle of elders teaching the children traditional ways, lore, culture, and language. But intermingling children from differing nations resulted, in some cases, in awakening political identity for Native Americans in general. Instead of demanding rights for one Nation, now there was a push like the American Indian Movement that could rally hundreds of Nations into a concerted voice for rights and issues. Today’s Native Americans may have much more power unified than ever before!

Montana Mosaic: Jeannette Rankin Suffragette

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Montanans are tied subtly and deeply to the nation and the world. Federal politics have affected the daily lives of Native Americans, students, senior citizens, and ranchers. International markets affect everything from crop selection to timber prices in Montana. Montanans fight for what they believe in…like Montana’s Jeannette Rankin. An acknowledged pacifist, she voted against U.S. involvement in both World Wars. Her stand incurred the wrath of millions of Americans— including many, but not all, Montanans. Jeannette Rankin reflects Montana toughness, courage, and integrity. She is a Montana story.

Montana Mosaic: Ethnic Diversity in Montana

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Montana is a state populated by waves of immigrants who joined the American Indians who find their creation stories in the state.  Mining, trapping, logging, agriculture, and political unrest in other parts of the world are just some of the reasons people move to Montana.  But this is not a phenomenon that is over...immigration is very much a 21st Century issue in Montana which shares a very long, unguarded border with Canada.  Old immigrants join new immigrants in bringing their traditions and cultures with them and celebrate them to keep their ethnicity alive.

Montana Mosaic: Mining, Labor Unions and the Speculator Mine Disaster

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Gold lured the first prospectors to Montana, and silver attracted industrialists, but it was copper that carried Montana’s economy into the twentieth century. Some of the richest veins of copper in the world lay under the Butte hill, and as the world’s demand for copper soared, Butte’s mines expanded.

Joining together in a labor union was one of the main ways workers could gain power. Unions like the Butte Miner’s Union negotiated with mine owners for better pay and safer working conditions. Improving safety was especially important in the mines, where accidents killed an average of one miner every other day in the 1890s.

 

Montana Mosaic: Experience of Indian Boarding Schools

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Boarding schools were part of an "assimilation strategy" that existed on, near and far removed from reservations. Boarding schools often separated students from their families and cultural traditions.  The boarding-school experience still casts a long shadow over the lives and the culture[s] of many Montana Indians.

Montana Mosaic: Federal Indian Policy

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When the United States annexed Montana land, it imposed federal laws on the newly acquired property and the people already on those lands. Despite tens of thousands of years that native peoples already lived in Montana—the U.S. government dictated Indian policy. Treaties, executive orders, and congressional legislation created that policy. American Indians fought this alien system in the ‘Indian Wars’ of the nineteenth century. Federal Indian policy alternately attempted to isolate Indians on reservations and to assimilate Indians into the Euro-American population. 

Montana Mosaic: The New Deal in Montana

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Following World War I, Montana slipped into a deep depression that ran right through the 1920s. When the nation dropped into the Great Depression in 1929, Montana struggled even harder. Drought compounded the economic failure and forced some Montanans to abandon the state for the West Coast. Others worked to be self-sufficient. Montana’s mining, timber, and railroad industries bottomed out. The New Deal programs became a lifeline for the economy of Montana – roads and dams set the stage for later tourism and irrigation.

Montana Mosaic: Women Homesteaders in Montana

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Immigrants changed Montana’s economic, political, and social fabric. They directly affected Montana Indian tribes by taking up non-allotment lands on reservations. The homestead ‘bust’ (1917–1930) proved just as dramatic as the ‘boom.’ Farms were abandoned, markets disappeared and towns died. Only the most resilient of settlers adapted to the new conditions and survived, becoming the core of Montana’s current agricultural community.  Contrary to popular opinion, homesteading wasn't for men only - women were able to "prove up" too and these hearty women also changed the fabric of Montana's early years.

Montana Mosaic: Ethnic Diversity - The Red Lodge Festival of Nations

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Red Lodge, Montana, is a town with a strong mining heritage. Eastern Europeans flocked in to work the mines bringing their native traditions with them.  The Red Lodge Festival of Nations was founded to honor those traditions.  Held annually in early August, the Festival is an annual highlight for locals and tourists alike.

Montana Mosaic: The Indian Boarding School Experience

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This video describes the boarding school experience of Native American children during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. To fulfill their assimilationist mission, these schools undermined Indian culture while insisting on the superiority of non-Indian culture. Their job training programs were usually for menial or “workman” jobs.

Montana Mosaic: American Indian Movement in Montana

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The video touches on the events surrounding and leading up to the formation of the American Indian Movement along with the movement’s goals. Interviewees talk about their continuing commitment to shape the federal policy and to regain control over their Nations' futures.

Montana Mosaic: Ethnic Diversity - Migrants Make Montana Produce

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Take a look at Montana history by studying why different ethnic groups migrated to Montana through time, and documenting if they stayed. For instance, examine the twentieth-century migration patterns of the arrival of Mexicans into the Yellowstone Valley. Sugar-beet production drew Mexican workers to Montana and their descendants stayed.

Montana Mosaic: Youth of the 1930s - Work and Recreation

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The particular effect of the Great Depression was especially troublesome for children at that time.  This was really the first time that child developmentalists and child psychologists could observe firsthand the prolonged effects of an economic downturn on children.  Fathers left home to seek work elsewhere, leaving many single-parent households.  As a result, the New Deal had many programs designed specifically for youth – both educational and social - in an effort to offset the social changes that the economy was wreaking on families, schools, and communities.

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