Sunday, June 20, 2021

Mosaic Monday #136: Where Our Past is Present

Before the nineteenth century, human habitation in the Flathead Valley was exclusive to the American Indians of Northwest Montana.  This was a vital location for a variety of the tribes in the area.  The Kalispel, Blackfeet, Shoshoni, and Nez Perce used the area seasonally, while the Salish, Kutenai and Upper Pend d'Oreille tribes called the Kalispell area home.  This, and so much more, I learned at the Northwest Montana Museum when #1 Son and I visited in September 2020.

Much of the first floor is dedicated to Native Americans and pioneer Frank Bird Linderman, who made it his mission in life to preserve their vanishing history for future generations.

Linderman came west at 16, ending up in the Swan Valley as a trapper and trader.  He became a trusted friend and champion of Montana American Indians.  During his time in the legislature and afterwards, he worked tirelessly to establish and preserve the rights and basic human necessities of tribes from all over Montana.

Linderman was adopted into the Blackfeet, Chippewa, Crow and Kootenai tribes.  All of the American Indian artifacts in the exhibit were personal gifts from friends and acquaintances.

Today, Linderman is best known as a highly acclaimed author; his most remembered books are those that directly preserve American Indian culture, including biographies of notable American Indians such as Crow Chief Plenty-coups and Medicine Woman Pretty-shield.

The bison-hide tipi easily deserves a place among the leading examples of mobile design.  Averaging 10 - 14 feet in diameter, it took a single person less than 15 minutes to set up and 3 minutes to take down.  The tipi's natural insulation got its occupants through the worst winter with minimal fuel, and the sides could roll up and vent during the summer.  During the day, it was evenly lit, and, with a fire, illuminated the camp from the inside at night.   It required no painting, save decoration, and was repaired simply by patching.

Except during the winter, most camps moved every few days, 10 - 15 miles at a time.  This was beneficial for sanitation, and moving to new locations ensured ample supply of wood and grazing for horses.  And if there were any hostile tribes in the area, it kept them guessing! 

I was fascinated by this rough map of Montana, detailing early Indian tribal distribution.  There is great diversity among the tribal nations of Montana in their languages, cultures, histories and governments.  Each Nation has a distinct and unique cultural heritage that contributes to modern Montana.

The subsistence patterns of Tribal people were built on hunting, fishing and gathering.  Fields of edible roots and berries were harvested in season; fish were abundant in lakes and streams; in the forests and meadows were deer, elk, moose and small game.  Forays were made east of the mountains to hunt buffalo.  A rich oral history and deep spiritual tradition guided daily life with a respect for each other, the environment, seasons, plants and animals.

Toward the end of the American Indian exhibit, a Flathead Valley Timeline caught my eye.  Circa 12,000 BC, the glaciers recede, opening the Flathead Valley to human habitation.  Circa 1,400 AD, the Kutenai and Salish people are in the Tobacco and Flathead Valleys.  In 1855, a reservation was established in the Mission Valley, and settlement of the Flathead by white men commenced.  By 2010, the population of Flathead Valley reached 91,000.  Editorial note: by July 2019, that number expanded to 103,806, a 14% increase - it's safe to say growth is accelerating rapidly!  (all pictures will enlarge if clicked on)

And, since Spousal Unit and I both work part time at the ski resort, I was intrigued to read this history.

My Dear Neighbor Friend used to work at the Cornelius Hedges Elementary School, and I occasionally went to the school to assist with some of her students.  I was thrilled to see this information on the school's namesake!!!

And maybe it was also a coincidence that, until 1997, this mountain lion lived north of Marion, Montana (we live 10 minutes from Marion)?

During our visit, the museum had a special exhibit - "Gold Dust - Montana's Haunted Landscapes".  On July 28, 1862, John White struck gold at Grasshopper Creek and kicked off the Montana Gold Rush.  Hidden beneath the Treasure State was an unbelievable amount of gold, silver, copper and other precious metals.  Helena was once home to the most millionaires per capita in the US.  Yet with any boom comes a bust.

The photos in this exhibition document the relics of the Rush.  Some have odd colorations because they were taken on expired Kodak Gold 35 mm film.  And each is printed on a wood panel, which will deteriorate in a manner similar to these structures.  So creative on the part of the photographer (I didn't note the name, unfortunately).

Sometimes, the building housing a museum is an artifact in its own right, and that is the case with this museum.  Construction of this Richardsonian Romanesque building began in 1893.  It was the first public building in town with indoor plumbing and electric lights.  It was created as the Central School for Kalispell.  By 1989, as shown in the timeline below, Kalispell had outgrown this spectacular building.  

On December 15, 1997, the Kalispell City Council voted 5 - 4 to renovate the Central School and spend $2.5 million to turn it into a museum.

The final exhibit we saw was "Sand Monkeys, Tie Hacks and River Pigs,", the story of the Timber Products Industry in Northwest Montana.  

It would take another post to cover this subject thoroughly - just look at the amount of information on this one wall!

It was inspiring to see this dedication to Anna Severud for her work on this exhibit.

The world of the Flathead Valley has certainly changed since 1,400 AD, but it is encouraging to know that young people are involved in local history, and giving back to the community.  

Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Tuesday (U.S. Mountain time).
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog.
Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back.
As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by.
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


  1. Hi Angie :) What a nice bit of history you shared. I love the idea of haunted landscapes. The images are so lovely!

  2. interesting look back, but native people have always been abused and I don't know if much has changed. Thanks Angie for hosting the party and I hope that you have a wonderful week ahead.

  3. Many times history gives me a bad feeling, not sure why. :(

  4. Such a rich and interesting history and a wonderful museum.

  5. Such an interesting exhibit! Native American culture is so worth preserving and revitalizing.

  6. Thanks for sharing your very interesting pics and info on Indigenous American culture

    Have a good week


  7. Dear Angie,
    this looks like a very, very interesting museum with lots of interesting exhibits. I am particularly enthusiastic about the tent - we could all learn so much from the knowledge of the indigenous people (worldwide). But normally we react to indigenous with displacement (see now also in the Amazon region or in the rainforests of Asia). At that time it was about hunting areas or gold, today about areas for palm oil cultivation or aluminum (bauxite) extraction. And it is always the so-called "civilized" who destroy, while the indigenous people want to preserve ...
    Today I even have two links for you - my posting from last week and my new one today. Enjoy! :-)
    All the best,

  8. Thanks for this look back in time. I think we could all do with educating ourselves on so much of the past that has either been forgotten or swept under the rug. There's so much to learn (or sometimes unlearn :) I ditto Traude's thoughts, too. Have a good week.

  9. Hello,
    Thanks for sharing the Montana museum and the exhibits. Frank Linderman was an interesting man, a politician and an ally of the native Americans. Take care, have a happy new week!

  10. Such exploitation, reparations must be done.

  11. Such exhibitions in historical buildings are a great passion for me to visit. Angie, that's a very interesting post. Especially about Indian culture. I love the great wisdom of them.

    Happy MosaicMonday. Have a very good week.

  12. How fascinating, Angie. I love visiting museums and the exhibitions you describe sound extremely interesting. In all places around the world, the indigenous cultures have the closest bond with the land and later arrivals can learn much from them.

  13. What an accomplishment by this young woman to help compile all of this information. It's important to learn about our history. Love this post! Thank you for sharing! Happy MM!

  14. Dear Angie - This post is so educational to me who is interested in but knows little about long history of native Americans and their places. They must have been through harsh history but so nice to know well-organized information timeline by the grass-root activities of young people. The mountain lion is so magnificent


  15. I'm glad to learn of a friend to Native Americans so long ago. I will have to look up his books. Interesting post!

  16. That was a great museum tour Angie. So much history there in your wide open spaces! The world could use more quiet heros like Mr Linderman. …and I was very impressed to note the high school student project that contributed so much to this fine Museum. And, as before, I do love that you and your son share this love of Museums.

  17. A very interesting post, thank you for your words and the photographs. I thought the bison-hide tipi was a good design and seemed to work well.

    Have a good week.

    All the best Jan

  18. Angie, What a timely post as we celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada! Thanks for sharing and hosting. Sylvia D.

  19. I love history and museums and today your blog has both because a museum is our history. Great post

  20. It really is enriching to learn the history of where you find yourself living. Our small museums in our area really have wonderful displays and so much history. Glad you and your son could enjoy this museum.

  21. It is important to tell true history even when it is painful. Have a good week.

  22. a little late this week, but I made it. So interesting to delve into our history. This looks like a fascinating museum. Enjoy your week, stay safe, and thank you again for the link up. It must be summer in your corner of the world - enjoy!

  23. Anyone who has “bird” for a middle name has to be special and Frank Bird Linderman certainly fits that bill. People like Linderman who catalog and preserve their times for future generations to learn from are, indeed, gems in society.

  24. So good to see the history is being recorded. Are there still Indian peoples in your area in Montana?

  25. Great job in posting some local history, Angie. I suspect that few who are not living in the west knew a great deal of the history of the area; in fact many locals are probably quite ignorant of it too.

  26. History is always enjoyable to read. What a wonderful museum to explore. Thanks for sharing and have a fun weekend.

  27. That's a cool museum. It seems that the tribes more and more are getting the attention that they should have got a long time ago.
    I'd love to see the mining segment. My mother's father worked the copper mines in Butte as a powderman and before that worked other mines all around Montana. He kept his family in Dubois, Idaho working a farm and visited only sporadically. He had 13 kids so I guess he made the most of his time while home.

  28. I have always loved to read the history of the Native Americans, though so many accounts of it sadden me. That tipi is fabulous. I cannot believe it only took 15 minutes to put up. So very clever.