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April 2019

APRIL 2019

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'Big Sky Reads' Stipends Available for Montana Book Clubs

The Montana Center for the Book supports public book clubs in rural areas that engage in deeper, thought-provoking discussions about literature.

The Big Sky Reads program, now in its second year, provides $500 stipends to book clubs for trained discussion leaders, author visits, book shipping, marketing, and other costs that enhance the humanities value of a program. Book clubs must be open to the public and meet in a public space or school.

All book clubs supported by the Montana Center for the Book contribute reading lists, discussion questions, event times and more to our Facebook group. This is a great resource to find new books, new participants, discussion questions, and facilitators.

If your library, school, or other organization has an established book club you think qualifies, you can apply for this award any time. The program funds up to ten clubs each year. There’s no deadline and the application is easy!

Opportunity Grants Awarded

We’re pleased to have the opportunity to support the following projects:

Queen City Roundup of Cowboy Poets, Playwrights & Storytellers, Montana Playwrights Network, Helena, $1,000. This conference will bring together novices, experienced writers, and the public. Events include daytime workshops and an open mic session followed by evenings of original plays, stories, Native American oral traditions, poetry, and music. April 26-27.

Mary Jane Bradbury Mission Valley School Visits, Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana, Charlo, $1,000. For the second year, Ninepipes Museum coordinates an artist-in-residence experience for area schools, this year featuring Mary Jane Bradbury’s portrayal of Nancy Cooper Russell. April 8-12.

Public Lecture on Climate Refugees, Soft Landing Missoula, Missoula, $1,000. Noted author Todd Miller will give a public lecture on climate refugees and border security, with events at the University of Montana earlier in the day. April 1.

Revisiting Montana 1889 Facebook Group Focuses on Michif, Roosevelt, and Garcia

The Revisiting Montana 1889 Facebook Group will spend April discussing the Michif (Metis), Theodore Roosevelt, and Andrew Garcia. Please join us at the Montana Historical Society in Helena on April 4 from 6:00-7:15 p.m. to participate in a conversation with scholar Nicholas Vrooman and Michif elder Al Wiseman (the conversation will also be livestreamed on Facebook).

The Montana Historical Society is hosting this lively monthly conversation based on Humanities Montana’s executive director Ken Egan's Montana 1889: Indians, Cowboys, and Miners in the Year of Statehood. Participants also share many reading suggestions, encouraging immersion in primary and secondary writing about our state’s colorful, complex past. If you need a copy of Montana 1889, go here. Royalties from book sales support the programs and grants of Humanities Montana.

Humanities Montana Opportunity Grants Available through Regular Grant Suspension

Opportunity Grants (quick-action grants up to $1,000) are currently available for organizations seeking funding for humanities programs. Humanities Montana has suspended other grantmaking decisions until November 1, 2019 while we expand development capacity and review our grants and programs. We recognize this change affects our many partners around the state. Please call Humanities Montana’s staff at 243-6022 to discuss Opportunity Grants and other possible funders for your work.

Event Calendar

Visit our online calendar to find out about upcoming Humanities Montana-sponsored events.


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Humanities Montana strengthens communities through stories, conversation, and reflection.

Much more information on Humanities Montana and its many programs and services is available on our website.

Write us at:

Humanities Montana
311 Brantly
Missoula, MT, 59812-7848

or contact us via email, or call us at 406-243-6022.

New Program Announcement: Gather Round

Gather Round is our new Do It Yourself (DIY) humanities program. Intimate conversations with friends are where the humanities happen in our daily lives. Our new program nurtures those moments in a fun, individualized way. For our first conversation generator we’ve selected the new anthology, Hearth: A Global Conversation on Community, Identity, and Place.

After April 20, you can request a DIY toolkit on our website to host your own humanities conversation. The toolkit includes playing cards, a portable hearth, a copy of the anthology, collectible pins and more.

Join us at Chico Hot Springs for the kickoff event on April 20 to meet Hearth editors Annick Smith and Susan O’Connor and hear from contributing authors Debra Magpie Earling, Chigozie Obioma, and Carl Safina. Ticket are available here.


Lowell Jaeger, Montana’s 2017-2019 Poet Laureate, has exceeded his goal of providing over 150 programs across the state with assistance from Humanities Montana. From Browning High School to the Montana Conservation Corp in Kalispell, Lowell brings humor and serious reflection while examining the “human condition” and empowering Montana’s youth to explore their heritage and authentic forms of expression through the written and spoken word.

Your support allows us to bring Montana’s Poet Laureate into Montana communities that may otherwise not have access to such resources. Poet William Stafford said of Lowell Jaeger's poems, "He has gone inside the feelings and thoughts that mark our part of the century. He makes me realize how serious and focused—and engaged—poetry can be."

You can catch Lowell on April 20th the Elling House Arts & Humanities Center in Virginia City will feature a reading and conversation with Lowell.

Welcome New Board Members Alden Big Man Jr. and David Dietrich

Humanities Montana’s Board of Directors elected two members to renewable three-year terms: Alden Big Man Jr. of Hardin and David Dietrich of Billings.

Alden Big Man Jr.

Dr. Big Man, an enrolled member of the Crow Nation, completed his undergraduate degree at Rocky Mountain College and his doctorate in history at the University of New Mexico. He has taught American Indian history at tribal colleges and is currently researching American Indian Vietnam War veterans.

David Dietrich

Mr. Dietrich is a prominent attorney with deep roots in the humanities. After graduating with a degree in English from Whitman College, he received his law degree from the University of Montana and has practiced law in Billings for the past 35 years. Dave has a particular commitment to supporting cultural opportunities in central and eastern Montana.

Congratulations to Alden and Dave and thank you for sharing your knowledge and passion for the humanities with Montana!

Governor’s Humanities Awards Honoree Spotlight: Ellen Crain, Butte

Ellen Crain is the long-time director of the Butte-Silver Bow Archives and an expert on Butte’s history. Her leadership in the campaign to refurbish the Archives building resulted in a model of historic preservation.

Ellen shared her appreciation for history with us: "Nestled within the labyrinthine neighborhoods of the Butte Hill are the dwellings where miners shed the trappings of their work and bound themselves and their families to their neighbors, building our tightly knit community. It was within one of these neighborhoods that my father learned the stories and songs of Ireland which he shared with our family throughout his life. In my work, the song and verse that populated my childhood lend color and humanity to the more academic realities of Irish immigration and the Irish American experience. It has also helped me to recognize the foundational role that music, song, and the ritual of sharing plays in every culture’s American-immigrant story."

As noted by Ellen Baumler from the Montana Historical Society:

"Not only is Ellen a tremendous asset to the Butte community, but she is also herself a living archive. There is no subject or detail related to Butte, its history, and its industrial heritage that she does not know or that she cannot immediately put her finger on. Her expertise is not limited to one area, but spans all the disciplines that make Butte unique."

You can read Ellen’s full remarks here.

Ellen Crain and Lt. Governor Mike Cooney

Montana Poet Laureate Nominations Now Open

The Montana Arts Council has announced that nominations for the next two-year Poet Laureate position are now open. The deadline for submitting nominations is April 10, 2019. The Montana Poet Laureate recognizes and honors a citizen poet of exceptional talent and accomplishment. The Poet Laureate also encourages appreciation of poetry and literary life in Montana.

Poet Laureate nominations are measured against three criteria:

1) Artistic excellence and achievement

2) Ongoing contributions to the cultural community

3) Worthiness of statewide recognition

Humanities Montana supports outreach and programming by featuring the Poet Laureate in its Montana Conversations catalog.

Submit your nominations here.

Hometown Humanities Update

April brings more programming to Red Lodge. The Willows hosts a living history program with Anne Foster called "Alcohol, Corsets, and the Vote: A Conversation with Mary Long Alderson." Head to the Red Lodge Carnegie Library for a conversation with Montana’s poet laureate, Lowell Jaeger. Think & Drink is back on at Red Lodge Ales. And listen to some music with your history lesson at Carbon County Museum when they host Bill Rossiter. For all the details, visit Hometown Humanities online.