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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Mining Montana Memory for Golden Resources

Have you checked out the Montana Memory Project lately, or ever?


Montana Memory provides access to digital collections that relate to Montana’s cultural heritage and government to make previously unavailable historic and cultural content available to the general public. You can think of it as Montana's version of the Library of Congress's digitization project (and if you haven't gone to that site, I highly recommend a visit.) 

But back to Montana.

I've mentioned  the Montana Memory Project in earlier posts, including this one on maps, this one on the Peggy Letters (newsletters sent by Miles City volunteers to Custer County men and women serving overseas); and this one on digitized National Register nominations. However, it's worth revisiting because it is such a rich resource. 

The Montana Historical Society is a partner in this project and over the years has added many photographs, documents, books, maps, audio, and other historical materials, including livestock brand records, military enlistment cards, and hundreds of photographs by esteemed eastern Montana photographers Evelyn Cameron and L. A. Huffman.

The crew at the Montana Memory Project has been working hard to make the site easier to use. It isn't perfect--but if you are looking for digitized primary sources, there's gold in them thar hills. Here are some tips for mining this resource.

  1. Use Advance Search. Always. (I find it helpful to do more, narrow searches rather than one large search.)
  2. Do you know what type of resource you are looking for (For example, a photograph or a county history book)? Narrow your search by Material Type.
  3. Do you know the collection name--or likely collections in which you'll find the information you are looking for (for example Central Montana Historical Photographs or Early Montana Histories)? Narrow your search by Collection. 
For example: I was recently looking for pictures of threshing crews. So I went to Montana Memory, selected advance search, selected photographs under type of material and typed in "threshing" for my search term. Among the images I found was this Evelyn Cameron picture of the "Williams family farm showing new Case steam-and gasoline-powered threshing machinery with five-member crew, ca. 1910," Montana Historical Society Photo Archives, PAc 90-87.G059-004.



Pretty cool, huh? 


Want more hints? Check out the Project's handy instructional videos, where you can learn not only tips for searching the site but also how to create a PowerPoint from the resources you find there.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Studying Science, History, and IEFA

The amazing Jim Schulz, who has just returned home from conducting trainings for us in Lewistown and along the High-Line, just introduced me to Threshold, a new podcast from Montana Public Radio, which explores issues surrounding bison in a seven-episode series.
"People and bison first met 75,000 years ago, and ever since, we've been hunting them, painting them, and walking with them into new lands. Before Europeans arrived in America there were more than 50 million bison here. By 1901, there were just 23 wild bison left. Now, we have some decisions to make. Can we ever have wild free-roaming bison in North America again? Should we? What does the history of bison have to teach us about ourselves?"
You can find all seven of the 30-minute episodes here. 

Another, extensive, cross-curricular study of bison can be found through Project Archaeology. The free curriculum includes five interactive, hands-on, and student-driven units highlighting bison’s integral role culturally, politically, socially, and ecologically both before and after Euroamerican contact. 

Have you ever noticed that once you start looking for something it seems to be everywhere? Just after I wrote this post, I heard NPR's "Code Switch" April 11, 2017 podcast, which focused the entire 21-minute episode to "The Beef over Native American Hunting Rights."

And then I saw this article in the Missoulian: "Zinke halts plan to transfer National Bison Range to tribal control." Bison is clearly topical.

On another note: Can you share this with your math and science teacher friends? Mobile Science Lab is a traveling trunk program developed as a joint project between the Carter County Museum and the Museum of the Rockies. It draws from the Carter County Museums' osteological collections to give students a hands-on approach to studying growth curves between maiasaura, cattle, chickens and deer. Through this program, students learn about agriculture and Montana's rich fossil history. It's suited primarily for high school math and science classrooms but has been adapted for younger students as well. Information on the trunk is available on their website at: http://cartercountymuseum.org/education/.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Special Tours--Real and Virtual

We have some new and exciting things happening in our tour program. 


  1. Nancy Russell (as interpreted by Mary Jane Bradbury) has agreed to continue giving tours of MHS's Mackay Gallery of Russell Art through the end of the school year. In this living history tour, Nancy shares first-hand stories about her life with Charlie and the integral role she played in creating his remarkable legacy.
  2. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the US entering WWI, Bobi Harris has revamped the tours at the Original Governor's Mansion to better reflect what was going on during WWI, when Governor Stewart and his family lived in the mansion. Much of the tour is also told through the perspective of the three Stewart girls, giving a kid's-eye view of life from 1910-1921.
  3. We've gotten good feedback on our new story-based tour of the exhibit "Neither Empty Nor Unknown: Montana at the Time of Lewis and Clark." Request the story tour to experience it for yourself.

You can book any of these tours, or our traditional tours of the museum and capitol by calling 406-444-3695 or 406-444-4789. 

Can't make it to Helena or want to extend your tour with pre- and post-tour lessons? 

  1. Every school library received a copy of our Montana's Charlie Russell packet, with lesson plans, PowerPoints, and art prints. The material is also online--and we still have some packets left, so feel free to email us if you want one for your own classroom.) And consider watching the 18-minute "Montana's Charlie Russell: A Visit with Nancy Cooper Russell" on YouTube. 
  2. Consider ordering our hands-on history footlocker, Original Governor’s Mansion: Home to the Stewart Family in Turbulent Times, 1913-1921, which offers an opportunity to investigate life and politics during the Progressive Era and World War I, 1913-1921, as well as the history and architecture of a magnificent building. Check out the Virtual Tour of the OGM and explore the history of Montana during World War I via this interactive Story Map.
  3. We've created PowerPoint tour of Neither Empty Nor Unknown: Montana at the Time of Lewis and Clark using the same stories we tell at the museum--as well as pre- and post-tour lesson plans. 
We're always interested in how you integrate your tours into your curriculum. If you've developed any pre- or post-tour lessons that make your students' visits to the Museum, Capitol or Original Governor's Mansion more meaningful than they would be otherwise, I'd love to hear about them.

P.S. Only ONE teacher has successfully completed our WWI challenge. I still have 4 prizes left. Get to work and you may be one of our lucky winners.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Summer Workshops plus Looking for Input on the state of Historic Preservation in Montana

We're still accepting applications for all of our summer workshops but deadlines are fast approaching: 

Montana and the Great War: Bringing It Home, June 12-13, 2017, Helena (for High School teachers only). Application deadline: April 15. 12 OPI Renewal Units and travel scholarships are available.

Teacher Leader in History Summit, June 14-15, 2017, Helena (for elementary teachers only). Application deadline: April 30. Up to 15 OPI Renewal Units or 1 graduate credit (at the cost of $150/pending course approval from MSU-Northern,  


Struggling Readers and Content Area Textbooks: Making Montana: Stories of the Land Accessible to All, June 16, 2017, Helena (4-12 grade teachers). Travel scholarship applications due May 1. 6 OPI Renewal Units.


P.S. My colleagues at the State Historic Preservation Office are looking for input. They've put together a short (10 question) survey hat they will use as they revise their historic preservation plan, which establishes how they direct resources over the next five years. Will you take their survey? https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QZ7R7R3

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Montana and the Great War

One hundred years ago today, the United States officially declared war on Germany and entered into what turned out to be a conflict that transformed our state, or nation, and the world. World War I has long been overshadowed by World War II, but I'd argue it is equally significant in its impact.

For the last year, my colleagues and I have been working on a web-based project that examines this complicated and under-examined war. I invite you to explore the result at Montana and the Great War

Look in these pages to find links to download pertinent articles, primarily from the Montana Historical Society's award-winning magazine, Montana The Magazine of Western History; information on archival collections in the Montana Historical Society Archives; clips from oral histories; and (still to come) educator resources. (I'm looking for grades 5-8 teachers to test a one- to two-day lesson plan that uses the online resources we created. If you are interested, please email me! We're also still recruiting high school teachers to participate in our June 12-13 Educator Workshop. Learn more here.)

Of all the aspects of this project, I'm most excited about the ArcGIS Story Map, which features 70 stories from across Montana that reflect the various ways the war changed the lives of Montanans both at home and while serving overseas--as well as ways the war's impact continued into the 1920s. 

To encourage you to explore this map, I'm proposing a contest and scavenger hunt. The first 5 people to find the correct answers to the following questions will win a fabulous as-yet-to-be-determined prize. All answers can be found in the Story Map, a link to which is on the main page of Montana and the Great War. Feel free to recruit your students or friends to help you. Ready?
  1. Name an African American soldier from Montana and the town from which he was from.
  2. What was the American Protective League and name one Montana community in which it was active.
  3. What did telegraph operator Minda Brownell McAnnally use to protect her fellow operators when she was sick with the flu? 
  4. Who came from this latitude and longitude--46.3629015,-104.2789468--and what made her remarkable? 
  5. Name the Montanan who participated in the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown soldier.
  6. What was the Montana Council of Defense's Order #3?
  7. Which town's Red Cross Society published a cookbook of “tempting recipes … [to] help banish memories of forbidden things”? 
  8. Find the story that is connected to the site nearest to your town (remember to look at all three sets of stories: Over Here, Over There, and Home Again.) What is it? Where did it take place? How many miles from where you live?
  9. How many men in your county served in World War I?
  10. Name one new thing you learned from the stories on this map that particularly disturbed, intrigued, confused or excited you.
Submit your answers to mkohl@mt.gov and while you are at it, let me know what you think of our new website. And if you are willing to test-drive our lesson plan (designed for 5-8 but adaptable to high school), let me know that too.

P.S. Spots are still available for our Montana and the Great War: Bringing It Home Workshop, designed for high school teachers interested in working with their students to uncover the war's local impact. Application deadline is May 1. Learn more here.  

Monday, April 3, 2017

MHS Digital Projects

People often say that Montana is a small town with a long Main Street. Both parts of that statement ring true to me. Here at the Montana Historical Society, we're proud to serve people who live in every corner of Montana, and work hard to maintain our connections across vast distances. (One way we're doing that this April is with our on-the-road educator workshops, which will be held in Lewistown, Glasgow, Chinook, and Cut Bank. There's still time to register!)

But the fact is, it is still a long haul from Libby to Cut Bank (the closest April workshop site) and we can't physically be everywhere. To overcome the prodigious length of Main Street, he Montana Historical Society has been working to use the internet to help serve our state. We broadcast all of our Thursday night programs through our YouTube channel, we record most of our annual history conference sessions to post on SoundCloud, and reach out through social media (including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.)

We've also increased our commitment to digitizing collections and creating self-contained digital projects focusing on specific topics. I've talked individually about many of these digital initiatives before, but here's a quick run-down of my favorites:
To make it easier to access and explore these digital projects, I've created a new link on the Educator Resources Page of our website that will lead to a list of our Digital Projects. I'll add more links as we complete more projects so check back often. We have some great new ones in the works.



Thursday, March 30, 2017

Upcoming IEFA Professional Development Opportunities

There are some great IEFA professional development--and PDs that integrate IEFA--coming up. Here are the ones that have crossed my desk. 



Montana Indian Education Association Annual Conference
Date(s):  April 19 –22, 2017
Location:  Missoula, Holiday Inn Downtown
Cost: $250 (for early registration)
Contact:  www.mtiea.org

The Montana Indian Education Association is hosting their 36th Annual Conference in Missoula in conjunction with the Kyi-Yo Powwow at U of M.  The conference theme is "Counting Coups through Education". 

Elk River Writing Project Invitational Leadership Institute
Date(s): Blended delivery – Online/On campus June 12 – August 14, 2017
              On campus: MSUB, June 12 – June 23, 9:00 a.m. –  4:30 p.m. daily
              Online: June 26 - August 11, ~3 hours per week
              On campus: MSUB, August 14, 9:00 a.m. – 6:15 p.m.
Location: Montana State University Billings and Online
Cost: $285
Contact:  Glenda McCarthy, email: elkriverwriting@gmail.com, phone: 406-839-0070

Elk River Writing Project's Invitational Leadership Institute offers 7 graduate credits to participants in a writing and teaching intensive course that blends place-based education, best literacy practices, Common Core, multicultural education and Indian Education for All.  All curricular areas, teaching levels and disciplines are encouraged to apply.

Worlds Apart But Not Strangers: Holocaust Education and Indian Education for All
Date(s): July 16 – 22, 2017
Location: MSU-B, Billings, MT
Cost: participants pay only for their housing (dorms available) and a few meals. 3 graduate credits offered for $135 total.
Contact:  Wendy Warren, email: wendyzwarren@yahoo.com, phone: 859-237-4069
Learn more and apply: https://www.toli.us/satellite-program/montana/

Worlds Apart But Not Strangers: Holocaust Education and IEFA is a seminar for educators, grades 4-college professors. This year, it will be held in Billings, Montana, site of the founding of the national organization Not in Our Town, as Billings' citizens responded to protect members of the Jewish and Native community from acts of hate. This inquiry-based seminar actively involves participants in classroom and field experiences, inspiring educators to create plans to take into their own classrooms, schools and communities.







Monday, March 27, 2017

More on Sovereignty and Native Land Use

In response to my inelegantly named post "Learning and Teaching about Indian Sovereignty plus Request for Short Story Ideas," Laura Ferguson, Adjunct Professor of Native American Studies at Helena College, emailed me two long and extraordinarily useful responses. With her permission, I'm sharing them here:

For teachers who want to delve into differences in views of land ownership between Europeans and America' indigenous peoples, I'd suggest using the first episode of the PBS series We Shall Remain, "After the Mayflower," because it involves early encounters between the English, Dutch and indigenous peoples, the idea of land as a commodity (salable, taxable, private property with legal title, and land as status) versus land as identity, as gift from the Master of Life, as sustainer, as an embodiment of culture, and as a provider that is not owned.  [This is something my students have to delineate at the beginning of our NAS classes, and we come back to it over and over.] 
As it progresses, the film gets into early treaties and land transfers, the conflict that these differing definitions of "land ownership" bring about, how indigenous people who once identified AS the land (“the land is me, I am the land, we are the People of the {geographical feature}”) began to use different terms to identify themselves -- terms that did not continue this association with land and self. The film presents a great way to begin a discussion about dispossession, the Doctrine of Discovery (vs. Natural/Birthright Law), and why treaties were essential for colonization.
This is also a good way to present a discussion of tribal sovereignty (as implied in treaty-making) and the film includes valuable information such as the Pequot war which ended by the English declaring, via the Treaty of Hartford, that it would be thereafter illegal for the Pequot Nation to exist or for a Pequot person to claim a tribal affiliation.  
 The We Shall Remain website has discussion questions by episode for teachers to use along with maps, comprehension questions, and other resources.
I helped write the definition of sovereignty for the Crossing Boundaries unit  and each portion of the seemingly incongruous portions of that definition have a basis in specific legal definitions, treaties, court cases, or similar sources.
 Tribes as semi-sovereign nations can be traced back to the Marshall Trilogy of Supreme Court cases (in particular Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, in which Justice Marshall declared the Cherokee to be a "domestic, dependent nation" under the guardianship of the United States, but then in Worcester v. Georgia used Cherokee Nation to defend the right of the Cherokee to self-governance and distinct political boundaries. Worcester also confirmed that state laws cannot apply in/on Indian nations.
 If teachers are teaching about the Removal era, the Marshall Trilogy is a necessary aspect of this history and these three cases continue to have bearing today both in upholding tribal sovereignty and in limiting it.
 There are several useful and understandable resources on the Marshall Trilogy and the Removal Act, Jackson's and Georgia's violation of the Supreme Court's decisions, and how the Cherokee removal  split the tribe into factions over sovereignty.
 Also, because each tribe has its own unique history with the federal government, including its own treaties and applicable executive orders and friendly/hostile status, the federal government has used is assumption of supreme sovereignty to truncate some tribes' sovereignty in different ways (for example, the Osage Tribe was not allowed by the federal government to add members at one time; another example is the federal definition of an  Indian as being someone with 1/4 blood quantum. There are tons of examples.) 
Presidents (through executive orders on specific tribes) and Congress have both stepped in to limit tribal sovereignty in specific ways. So while it may seem (and be) weird that sovereignty is not the same for all tribal nations, there are reasons -- and these are great things for students to delve into and try to figure out.
At my request, Laura also recommended some additional resources on sovereignty:

American Indian Tribal Sovereignty Primer from the American Indian Policy Center

We Shall Remain (individual episodes are on youtube):
  • "After the Mayflower" (relevant to land ownership, treaties) and "Trail of Tears" (relevant to tribal sovereignty, and the Marshall trilogy, Removal Act) -- see the "Teacher Guide per Episode: links at bottom of this page
  • For selection of books and tribal Web sites that We Shall Remain producers, directors and researchers relied on to tell these stories, view Film Bibliographies.
The Advocates for Human Rights published the 9-12 lesson plan "What Does Sovereignty Look Like?" It includes the Marshall Trilogy up through the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It may be a bit challenging, but the resources in it are useful and solid, and talking about Native American sovereignty in the context of global indigenous sovereignty is certainly important.  
A teacher at Helena High School uses this video, which I like as it presents the information and has multiple people (tribal, legal, etc.) talk about these issues: Tribal Nations: The Story of Federal Indian Law (2006, documentary)
Great Falls Indian Ed Coach Jolena Hichman created a good sovereignty unit for OPI: Using Primary Source Documents to Understand Tribal Sovereignty

If you've read this far, you may also be interested in an upcoming PD Webinar from the National Archives: Bringing Native American Voices into Your Classroom. Thanks, Ruth Ferris, Billings school librarian extraordinaire, for alerting me to this free professional development webinar on Thursday, April 6th at 7 p.m. or 10 p.m. EDT.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Rundown on MHS Workshops

I've been announcing so many workshops it may be hard to keep track, so I thought I'd offer a rundown of all the workshops we're offering this spring and summer. OPI Renewal Units will be offered for ALL workshops. There are travel scholarships available for the summer workshops. Click on the workshop title for more information and links to register.

April

Crossing Disciplines: Social Studies, Art, and the Common Core

  • Lewistown, on April 8, 2017
  • Glasgow, on April 10, 2017
  • Chinook, on April 11, 2017 
  • Cut Bank, on April 12, 2017

June

Montana and the Great War: Bringing It Home, June 12-13, 2017, Helena (for High School teachers). Application deadline: April 15.

Teacher Leader in History Summit, June 14-15, 2017, Helena (for elementary teachers only). Application deadline: April 30.

Struggling Readers and Content Area Textbooks: Making Montana: Stories of the Land Accessible to All, June 16, 2017, Helena (4-12 grade teachers). Travel scholarship applications due May 1.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Neither Empty Nor Unknown: Montana at the Time of Lewis and Clark Lesson Plan

I'm delighted to share that we have a new lesson plan focused on traditional lifeways of Montana Indians: the "Neither Empty nor Unknown: Montana at the Time of Lewis and Clark Lesson Plan." Targeted for grades 4-7 (but adaptable to other grades), the lesson plan is designed to complement a tour of our "Neither Empty nor Unknown" exhibit: "Learning through Stories." (Find information about scheduling tours here.) 

However, for those (because of distance or for other reasons) who are unable to bring their class to tour the exhibit, the lesson plan offers instructions for modifying the lesson and a "virtual tour" via PowerPoint and script. In essence, the lesson plan brings the exhibit to you (though it's not as good as coming to the museum, of course.)

So--what's in this lesson: 

1. A pre-tour PowerPoint lesson that provides students with essential background information on Montana’s tribes around the year 1800. 
2. A tour (virtual or actual) that  asks for active student participation and uses indigenous peoples’ stories and personal narratives to complement the exhibit.
3. Two post-tour lessons--one on horses and society and the other on indigenous worldviews--that offer students a chance to expand on what they have learned.
4. Questions for a summative class discussion that enables students to put all the pieces together.

Independent historian and curriculum developer Laura Ferguson created this lesson for us. (Laura s also the author of several other of our lessons, including "Montana Women at Work: Clothesline Timeline Lesson Plan," "Biographical Poems Celebrating Amazing Montana Women Lesson Plan," and "Montana's Landless Indians and the Assimilation Era of Federal Indian Policy: A Case of Contradiction," and once again she's outdone herself. My favorite thing about this lesson is the inclusion of stories. Laura has found great short accounts to illuminate what life was like especially for children. Since most of the excerpts are taken from Plenty Coups and Pretty Shield, the Crow feature prominently, but she's also included a Blackfeet story, "The First Buffalo Stone," and in the post-tour lessons, two Salish stories: "Fallen-From-The-Sky’s Vision Quest" and "The Story of Pretty Flower."

I look forward to hearing what you think of these new lessons and tour. So after you visit (or take your class on the virtual tour), let me know what you think.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Nominate an amazing 4-6 grade Montana history teacher for the Centennial Bell Award

Do you know a great 4th-6th grade teacher who has done an exemplary job teaching Montana history during the 2016-2017 school year?  Please nominate him or her for the 28th Montana Statehood Centennial Bell Award.

To nominate a 4th-6th grade Montana History Teacher, email Norma Ashby at ashby7@q.com.  Please include the following information:

* Your name
* Your email
* Nominee’s name
* Nominee’s email
* Grade level
* School Name
* School  address
* School phone number
* Nominations are due by March 24, 2017.

Nominated teachers will be asked to submit two letters of support (one from their principal and one from a student), and a one-to-two page statement detailing the following:

1. Why they enjoy teaching Montana history.
2. How they engage their students in learning.
3. How their Montana history course recognizes Montana’s cultural diversity.
4. Anything else they’d like to share about their class or methods.

Nominees will receive more instructions on how to submit this material after March 24, 2017.  They will have until May 4, 2017 to submit their material.

The winner and his or her class will be honored at a ceremony in the State Capitol in Helena on Statehood Day, November 8, 2017.  The winner will receive a plaque and $2,750 toward library and classroom materials, field trips, speakers and anything else that will enhance learning in the classroom. 

This program is sponsored by the Montana Television Network, the Montana History Foundation and the Sons & Daughters of Montana Pioneers in cooperation with the Montana Historical Society.  The Award is given in odd numbered years to a 4th-6th grade Montana History Teacher and in even numbered years to a 7th-12th grade Montana History Teacher. 


Please contact Norma Ashby in Great Falls, Mt. with any questions about the award or the nomination process at 406-453-7078 or at ashby7@q.com.  Thank you for your help in honoring the best teachers of Montana History in the state.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Learning and Teaching about Indian Sovereignty plus Request for Short Story Ideas

I had an amazing time at OPI's 11th Annual Indian Education for All Best Practices Conference. It is truly one of my favorite conferences, and if you've never gone, I encourage you to put it on your schedule for next year.

Among the sessions I attended was a mini-institute on teaching Indian sovereignty led by Billings Public School IEFA Coach Glenda McCarthy and Dana Wilson, the former vice chairman of the Crow Tribal Council.


I went to the session because I've struggled with this topic for years--as I think many non-Indian Montanans do. 

Before I jump into Dana and Glenda's session, I want to share this definition of sovereignty, taken from the lesson plan "Crossing Boundaries through Art: Seals of Montana Tribal Nations": 


  • Sovereignty: The supreme power from which all political powers are derived. Sovereignty is inherent and cannot be given to one group by another. Sovereignty ensures the right to self-government, facilitates cultural preservation, and enables a peoples’ control of their own future. Legally, federally recognized tribal nations are considered semi-sovereign entities and as such have a unique relationship to the federal government. Sovereignty affirms the political identity of Indian Nations; they are not simply a racial or ethnic minority. 
  • I also want to share  IEFA Essential Understanding 7: "Under the American legal system, Indian tribes have sovereign powers, separate and independent from the federal and state governments. However, the extent and breadth of tribal sovereignty is not the same for each tribe."
There is tension between and within these statements:
  • "Sovereignty is inherent and cannot be given to one group by another."
  • "Legally federally recognized tribal nations are considered semi-sovereign."
  • "the extent and breadth of tribal sovereignty is not the same for each tribe."
And it is these tensions that have caused me problems as I've thought about how to think about (and teach) Indian sovereignty. Thankfully, this session provided some great material and strategies.

Lesson 1: Bring in guest speakers. Dana's been giving presentations to government classes in the Billings School District and his presentation reminded me how valuable reaching out to experts can be--especially when you are dealing with a complicated topic where theory and practice don't always align. If you are teaching about Indian sovereignty--especially at the high school level--it's worth looking to nearby reservations to see if there's anyone who can help unpack the complexities.

Lesson 2: Resources exist to help you. Glenda guided us to several.

  1. Glenda has gathered many amazing resources on the Billings Public Schools IEFA website (high school social studies page), which she is happy to share with teachers across the state. They include a Tribal Sovereignty PowerPoint, teaching notes, fast facts, and two graphic organizers she's found useful in working with students as well as many links. 
  2. OPI has created three units on tribal seals (one for grades 3-5, one for grades 6-8, and one for grades 9-12). Both called "Crossing Boundaries through Art: Seals of Montana Tribal Nations," the flexible multi-part units are designed to help "students to learn about Montana Indian tribes as distinct, sovereign entities while studying and creating symbolic art."
  3. Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe's website "The Rez We Live On" has a two-minute introduction to sovereignty. (Lots of other great info here too.)
Glenda led us in a great exercise, where she had us work in small groups to analyze one of several articles, which discussed topics as varied as Trump's transition team's meeting with Native Americans, bison range management, hunting rights, language preservation, medical marijuana, and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Within our group, after reading our article, we were instructed to perform the following tasks:
    • Define key terms from the article as necessary in margin.
    • Find 1-3 key quotes/evidence that could explain the issue to others, or be used to develop an argument.
    • Write questions/concerns you have about this issue or the article.
    • Summarize the central idea.  How does it relate to tribal sovereignty?
    • Report back.
I loved this exercise because it allowed us to apply the concept of sovereignty to specific situations (and thus to come away with a more sophisticated understanding.) If you decide to use this exercise, can (and should as time passes) look for articles that you can use with your class (Indian Country Today is a good source) but Glenda was kind enough to provide the articles we read during the workshop in a teacher-friendly word doc, which I have shared here.

As you can see, it was a productive three hours!

It wasn't part of the workshop, but here's one more resource that might be useful for teaching (and learning) about sovereignty:  Tribal Nations in Montana: A Handbook for Legislators.  A joint publication between the Montana Legislative Services Division and the Margery Hunter Brown Indian Law Clinic at the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana, the 73-page handbook covers brief, educational introductions to a myriad of topics. Chapter headings include “Basic Principles of State-Tribal Relations,” “Definitions of ‘Indian’ and ‘Indian Tribe’,” “Tribal Sovereignty,” “Gaming,” “Water Rights,” “Indian Child Welfare Act,” “Criminal Jurisdiction in Indian Country,” “Taxation,” and much more. An electronic copy of the Handbook is available at the above link. While supplies last, you can receive a hard copy by emailing or calling Hope Stockwell at 406-444-9280 or HStockwell@mt.gov.


On a slightly different note, I received an email from a high school English teacher requesting suggestions for short stories that could help "non-native students to understand how cultural their ideas and understanding of land ownership is vs. other cultural beliefs about land stewardship." She writes: "I had been researching for any fiction (but non-fiction is great too) simply because students seem to be more receptive to a scenario, anecdote, or story about a topic than to an essay. That said, learning how to read essays, even if they don't appreciate them, is a part of their curriculum too." She already uses the amazing poetry collection OPI published: Birthright: Born to Poetry--A Collection of Montana Indian Poetry, and I recommended choosing excerpts from Plenty Coups and  Pretty Shield, which OPI donated to every public school library. I also suggested she take a look at our lesson plan "Mining Sacred Ground: Environment, Culture, and Economic Development on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation." Do you have other suggestions? Please send them along. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Struggling Readers and Content Area Textbooks: Making Montana: Stories of the Land Accessible to All

I've had several teachers tell me that their students have had difficulty reading Montana: Stories of the Land. If you've faced this problem--with Montana: Stories of the Land or with any textbook--this workshop is for you!
Designed for 4-12 grade teachers who have have students who struggle reading content area textbooks, this six-hour seminar will use Montana: Stories of the Land as a case study to explore a wide variety of strategies to support struggle readers.
About the Presenter
Tammy Elser works nationally providing professional development for teachers. The author of The Framework: A Practical Guide for Montana Teachers and Administrators Implementing Indian Education for All, and a dozen integrated Indian Education and Common Core aligned curricula, Tammy focuses on practical strategies supporting current and future teachers to achieve both equity and excellence for all students.
The Details
Who: 4-12 grade teachers of Montana History, US History or any teacher worried about students’ capacity to read and understand content area text books in any subject.
What: 6 hours of focused professional development using Montana: Stories of the Land as a case study.
When: June 16, 2017, 8:30-3:30
WhereMontana Historical Society, 225 N. Roberts, Helena
OPI Renewal Units and a limited number of travel scholarships will be available.

Monday, March 6, 2017

April Educator Workshops in Lewistown, Glasgow, Chinook, and Cut Bank

Mark your calendars and tell your friends! The Montana Historical Society is going on the road with four educator workshops, at venues across the state.

Last year's on-the-road workshops in eastern Montana received rave reviews--so we're sending nationally recognized social studies and science teacher Jim Schulz to the hi-line and central Montana to lead the workshop "Crossing Disciplines: Social Studies, Art, and the Common Core." 

Cosponsored and held at local museums, these workshops are targeted to 4-12 teachers interested in meeting Common Core ELA and Math standards while engaging students in active learning.

Here's the schedule:

April 8, 2017: Lewistown (Cosponsored by the Central Montana Museum): 
  • Place: 408 NE Main St., Lewistown MT 
  • Time: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • Register now.
April 10, 2017: Glasgow (Cosponsored by the Valley County Pioneer Museum): 
  • Place: 816 Highway 2, Glasgow MT 
  • Time: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • Register now.
April 11: Chinook (Cosponsored by the Blaine County Museum):
  • Place: 501 Indiana St, Chinook, MT 
  • Time: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • Register now.
April 12, 2017: Cut Bank (Cosponsored by the Glacier County Museum)
  • Place: 107 Old Kevin Highway, Cut Bank, MT
  • Time: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • Register now.
The morning will be spent on Visual Thinking Strategies, a technique that uses teacher-facilitated discussions of art images to train students in “key behaviors sought by Common Core Standards” (vtshome.org) and learning about ways to teach art through social studies and ELA/social studies through art.   

In the afternoon, participants will be introduced to other ready-to-use, cross-disciplinary lesson plans from the Montana Historical Society, including a lesson from one of our hands-on history footlockers and a lesson that engages students in collecting and analyzing survey data to help the understand change over time. Attendees will leave with a Teaching Montana’s Charlie Russell packet that includes fifteen high-quality prints, PowerPoints, and grade-specific lesson plans. 

The workshop is free. 6 OPI Renewal Units available. 

Learn more, view the agendas, and find the links to register here

And please help us spread the word to colleagues who might be interested.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Writing Dialogue Poems: Followup

Readers had great feedback on my recent post, Writing Dialogue Poems to Compare Points of View

Dottie Susag, retired English teacher from Simms, said she a variation of this assignment using “Sure You Can Ask Me a Personal Question," by Diane Burns. “It's a dialog poem but you don't hear the other side. I like to have students make up the other voice.” 

"Sure You Can Ask Me a Personal Question" is a great poem in its own right for getting kids thinking about stereotypes, according to Anna Baldwin (Arlee High School). She said that it is one the Arlee Reservation Ambassadors often uses to "to launch discussion and encourage frank conversations about stereotypes and reservation life." (Don't know who the Reservation Ambassadors are? You should! It's a student club from Arlee High School that visits or Skypes with classrooms to build relationships and understanding about reservation life. (You can ask them to meet with your class in person or online by emailing club co-advisor Anna Baldwin at abaldwin@arleeschools.org.)  

Finally, Brenda Johnston, who teaches English at Browning High School, wrote to let me know that she has her "students write two voice poems when studying the Holocaust and the Baker Massacre.  It is a good way for me to assess some of their learning."

It looks as if dialogue poems are already classroom tested and have received a two thumbs up. 





Monday, February 27, 2017

More digitized Montana newspapers now online

The Montana Historical Society is pleased to announce that new content is available to search and browse on the web site MONTANA NEWSPAPERS.

Several newspapers from Thompson Falls, including the SANDERS COUNTY LEDGER, DEMOCRAT, and SIGNAL (1905-24), are online.

The FLATHEAD COURIER (Polson) boasts a 70-year run, from 1910 to 1980.

From the town of Moore, Montana, you’ll find THE INLAND EMPIRE (1905-15) and THE MOORE INDEPENDENT (1921-31).

We’ve also added three special editions:

Montana Newspapers is one of two online repositories of digitized Montana newspapers. The other is Chronicling America, which includes both newspapers from Montana and ones from around the country. Find a list of the Montana papers available through Montana Newspapers here, and a separate list of the Montana papers available through Chronicling American here. (Note that there is no overlap between the two sites.) Or check out this map, that shows the papers' geographic distribution. 

Want ideas for using the digitized newspapers in your classroom? Check out these earlier posts: 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Who is the keeper of your community's heritage?

Who are the Heritage Keepers in your community--the people who have worked tirelessly to preserve our shared history and culture? Consider nominating one of these special people for the 2017 Montana Historical Society Board of Trustees' Heritage Keeper Award

With this annual award, The Montana Historical Society's Board of Trustees honors exemplary commitment, effort, and impact in identifying, preserving, and presenting Montana's historical and cultural heritage for current and future generations.   

You can find the names of past awardees here, and the nomination form here.


If you know someone whose commitment to Montana historical and cultural preservation is worthy of recognition, submit a completed nomination form by mail, fax or e-mail, on or before March 15, to:
Heritage Keeper Awards Chair
Montana Historical Society
225 North Roberts
P.O. Box 201201
Helena, MT 59620-1201
jlewis@mt.gov
406-444-1799
406-444-2696 (fax)
Nominations may be resubmitted and/or reconsidered on an annual basis if the person or group did not receive an Award the previous year or years.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Become a Montana Historical Society Teacher Leader in History

The Montana Historical Society is soliciting applications from K-5 teachers interested in helping improve elementary history education in their schools, districts, and regions by becoming Teacher Leaders in History.

Successful applicants will demonstrate a commitment to history education, interest and experience in teaching Montana history, excellence in the classroom, experience in sharing best practices with their colleagues, and familiarity with the Montana Historical Society’s work and educational resources.

In addition to the criteria above, up to the 10 program fellows will be chosen to reflect Montana’s geographic and educational diversity, assuring representation from different regions and both small and large schools.

Those accepted as Teacher Leader Fellows will be brought to Helena for a two-day Teacher Leader in History Summit, to be held at the Montana Historical Society, June 14-15, 2017, at the conclusion of which they will be certified as Montana Historical Society Teacher Leaders in History.

Throughout 2017-2018, this select group of Teacher Leaders in History will

  • Serve as a members of the Montana Historical Society Educator Advisory Board, providing advice and classroom testing of lesson plans on an as-needed basis.
  • Work to increase the Montana Historical Society’s visibility in their schools and communities.
  • Promote Montana Historical Society resources to teachers in their region.
  • Assist teachers in their schools in finding appropriate resources/implementing lessons that reflect best practices in elementary history education.
  • Provide feedback to the Montana Historical Society about the areas in which they see need.
  • Sharing Montana Historical Society Resources
    • through a formal presentation at one or more regional conferences (for which they may earn OPI Renewal Units)
    • within their own school or across their district through informal outreach and/or formal presentations
  • Communicating with Montana Historical Society staff throughout 2017-18, documenting the outreach they have conducted
  • Participating in asynchronous discussions about
    • the obstacles their colleagues face while teaching history, and especially Montana history
    • ideas for overcoming these obstacles to improve history education
    • ideas for reaching other teachers with information.
In return, the Montana Historical Society will provide the following (valued at more than $500):
  • Full travel scholarships to attend the free two-day June 2017 Summit, with the option of participating in a post-summit workshop on Reading Strategies for Social Studies on June 16, 2017.
  • An honorarium of $100 to cover travel expenses to one regional conference, at which the participant is presenting.
  • Free shipping for one MHS footlocker during the 2017-18 school year.
  • Ongoing support and consultation, including model PowerPoint presentations to use and adapt as in presentations to fellow educators
  • A certificate designating the participant as an official MHS Teacher Leader in History.
  • Up to 15 OPI Renewal Units or 1 graduate credit (at the cost of $150/pending course approval from MSU-Northern)  
Only 10 teachers will be selected for this special program. Apply online here. Applications are due April 30. Awardees will be notified by May 12