2019 Humanities Montana Annual Report

A Year in Review

A message from
Scott Crichton

Interim Executive Director

It is my pleasure to present you with Humanities Montana’s Annual Report. The year 2019 represents a time of transition for our organization – and for many other humanities councils around the nation – as we worked to assess our accomplishments and strategically focus on our organizational needs.

This organization has served Montana communities for almost half a century. Our longevity provided us a wealth of historical materials we referenced to review and evaluate our impact. The Montana Committee for the Humanities began in 1972 with a planning grant of $15,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities. By December of that year, the MCH gave its first regrant to Montana Public Radio. Since those humble beginnings, our talented and dedicated staff has developed original and innovative programming in addition to regranting $6,962,389 to Montana organizations and individuals. Our organization’s successes have come as a result of exceptional volunteer leadership by more than 200 talented people serving as members of our board of directors over 47 years.

After nearly 50 years of growth, strategic planning pointed us toward clarifying and redefining our organization’s mission and how we can better serve Montana’s changing communities. During this process, while we maintained and increased our programming, we suspended most of our grant programs in order to re-evaluate our services and how they fit with Montana’s needs. And given the uncertainties of future federal funding, we also focused on strengthening our relationships with supporters and allies.

At year’s end, we relaunched our grants awards and unveiled our strategic program offerings with a refreshed vision and renewed commitment to serve communities through stories and conversation.

Our promise to our constituents, supporters, volunteers, donors, and employees is reflective of where we have been and where we would like to go. Please check our new website at www.humanitiesmontana.org

Toward summer’s end, long-time Executive Director Ken Egan announced his plans to retire with an eye on more time for writing and academic research. Last fall, the board of directors asked me to lead them in the interim and conduct a search for our new executive director. Thanks to an engaged search committee, we reviewed dozens of applications from 19 states and interviewed a handful of finalists before offering the position to Montana native Randi Lynn Tanglen. Randi will begin at Humanities Montana in June once she fulfills her teaching commitments at Austin College in Sherman, Texas.

I have been honored and privileged to serve in this interim capacity and I look forward to a new era for Humanities Montana. Thank you for reading this report, and taking the important step of supporting the humanities in Montana. We look forward to seeing more of you in 2020!

Our Priorities

We’re Sharpening Our Focus

In 2019, we held a series of strategic planning conversations, gathering feedback and evaluating our impact from grantees and partners across the state. What emerged was a targeted prioritization of the areas we support.

Rest assured, we are not creating new priorities but sharpening our focus to build upon the work we have done for decades. We remain committed to serving communities through stories and conversation. We offer experiences that nurture imagination and ideas by speaking to Montanans’ diverse history, literature, and philosophy.

For the full impact of grants and programs from Humanities Montana in 2019, check out our Impact Map.

Please click the image to view our Impact Map.

Please click the graphic to expand.

Our Grantees

Supporting Cultural Projects Across the State

Across Montana, our grantees understand the power of story. Collectively, they illustrate how discussion about the human condition can strengthen cooperative relationships among communities and organizations and enrich civic discourse among the state’s diverse cultures across its geographic distances.

In 2019, we suspended our regular grants program for the year in order to focus on evaluating our organization’s services and the emerging needs of our state. As a long-time grantor in Montana, we were committed to making funding available to organizations through Opportunity Grants during this time.

Providing Professional Development: Grant Writing Workshops 2019, Montana History Foundation, Helena, $1,000. Six free grant-writing workshops held across the state in 2019, providing professional development for humanities-focused nonprofits.

Flathead Valley Community College’s 2019 Honors Symposium: The Changing Face of Europe, Flathead Valley Community College, Kalispell, $1,000. A series of lectures and presentations examining the facets of sociopolitical changes in Europe at this new crossroads marked by re-emerging populism, economic displacement and immigration, as well as heightened security concerns.

Montana History Field Trip, Vaughn School, Vaughn, $1,000. An eighth grade field trip will explore the state capital, the mines of Butte, the Old Montana State Prison, Lewis and Clark Caverns, Bannack, the Big Hole Battle Ground and Yellowstone Park.

Museums Association of Montana Annual Conference 2019, Museums Association of Montana, Helena, $1,000. Funding in support of the keynote speaker, Herman Viola, a curator emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, during the annual conference held, this year, in Miles City.

Big Ideas by Little Philosophers, Merlin CCC, Helena, $1,000. A dynamic television-classroom series designed to help youth share their ideas with the world—a mashup of Mr. Rogers, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, and Socrates.

Newspaper Preservation, Melstone Area Foundation, Melstone, $1,000. Microfilming early years of the local newspaper which was produced from 1909-1939, digitization, and archiving accessible copies.

Art and Adaptation: Transforming Art among the Apsaalooke, Western Heritage Center, Billings, $500. An exhibit exploring the work of contemporary Apsaalooke artists, February 28—May 4, 2019.

Writing the West: A Way Forward, the 2019 In the Footsteps of Norman Maclean Festival, Alpine Artisans, Seeley Lake, $1,000. The three-day festival, September 13- 15, features Michael Punke, Rick Bass, Peter Stark, Richard Manning, Debra Magpie Earling, Judy Blunt, Annick Smith, and Dan O’Brien.

Spanish Heritage Education, World Language Initiative-MT, Bozeman, $1,000. This grant will support scholarships for Spanish Heritage camp, July 22-26, designed to support Hispanic children in language maintenance, Spanish literacy and academic skills.

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.

2019 Children’s Festival of the Book, Bozeman Public Library Foundation, $1,000. The 12th annual Children’s Festival of the Book will be held in area schools on Friday, November 8, and at the Bozeman Public Library on November 9.

Oral History Project with Rebekka Rafnsdóttir, Icelandic Multimedia Artist, Cottonwood ALC, Helena, $600. Author and video maker Rebekka Rafnsdóttir will work with students at Cottonwood school to gather oral histories and video with 102- year-old Irene Roberts of Helena.

True Stories Save Lives: A Postpartum Storytelling Endeavor, Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies, Missoula, $1,000. Writers and performance artists April Charlo, Liz Song Mandell, and Melissa Bangs will share their birth and postpartum stories at Salish Kootenai College followed by a conversation focused on storytelling and trauma, May 25.

Worlds Apart but Not Strangers: Holocaust Education and Indian Education for All, Elk River Writing Project, MSU Billings, $1,000. The seminar will run June 9-15th in Billings in partnership with the Elk River Writing Project and the Olga Lenyel Institute for Holocaust Education and Human Rights. The seminar focuses on the policies and practices of Nazi German and the impact of federal policies on Native peoples in the United States.

Two Dot Schoolhouse Writer’s Retreat, Upper Musselshell Historical Society, Missoula, $1,000. The grant supports a four-day retreat at Two Dot Schoolhouse Studios for writers working on projects utilizing places as a significant theme in their work. Ruth Marie Thomlinson and Elissa Favero host and Debra Magpie Earling serves as the lead writer. The retreat is open to eight Montana writers and students or alumni of Cornish College of the Arts. The retreat includes public programming with the community, including a talk and reading by Magpie Earling on June 14th.

Global Education Initiatives Road Trip, World Affairs Council of Montana, Missoula, $1,000. The grant supports travel to rural communities to promote the Council’s Global Initiatives including Academic World Quest, which brings more than 300 students and teachers together each year, a video conference platform that connects classes in some of the most remote parts of Montana with global experts, and Montana’s Global Educator of the Year Award, recognizing an exceptional teacher who brings the world into her or his classroom.

Creative Indigenous Collective Art Exhibit and Panel, ImagineIF Library Foundation, Kalispell, $1,000. “Step into a World” and panel discussion with Collective members. The exhibit and panel discussion will occur at the library in early February 2020. The exhibit and panel will feature Native American artists including Ben Pease (Crow/Northern Cheyenne), John Pepion (Blackfeet Nation/Piikani), and Gina Still Smoking (Lower Brule Sioux).

The Higgins Ridge Fire Oral History and Public Presentation, National Museum of Forest Service History, Missoula, $1,000. A collection of oral histories of the response to the 1961 Higgins Ridge Fire will be the basis for the first public program as part of the Museum’s new Conservation History Lecture series on Saturday, June 29th.

Ending Racism Workshop, MSU Extension Hill County, Havre, $1,000. A workshop lead by the Montana Racial Equity Project, which will be held on June 22, will focus on terminology, history of marginalized peoples in Montana, and education on microaggressions and cultural exploitation.

Greek Insights for Today’s America: A Community Conversation, Carrol College, Helena, $990.

Visiting Writers Program: Maira and Alex Kalman, Elk River Arts and Lectures, Livingston, $1,000. This mother and son duo are internationally acclaimed for their contributions to art and literature, and recently collaborated on a visual memoir. The lecture will take place at 7:00 pm on September 12 in the Livingston Elks Club, with $5 tickets available at the door.

The Brodhead Maternity Home: Care, Connections, and Community in Eastern Montana, Women’s Reproductive History Alliance, Bozeman, $1,000. A new website will show case the work of turn-of-the-century maternity homes and their impact on public health in Montana. The website is part of the multi-stage project, “The Brodhead Maternity Home: Care, Connection, and Community in Eastern Montana.” This project will use the work of one Montanan, Catherine Brodhead, to examine the larger reproductive context of Euro-American settlement in eastern Montana from mid 1800s through the 1940’s.

Getting Your Game On: Connecting To Youth Through Video Games & STEM, Add-A-Tudez Entertainment Company, Great Falls, $500. This program uses video game technology to engage with primary and secondary school children, and shows them how STEM, language, and other educational skills contribute to the creation of gaming media. These programs are planned in rural and urban parts of the state.

Celebrating Agriculture in Prairie County: A Documentary, Evelyn Cameron Heritage, Terry, $1,000. This documentary will feature interviews with individuals and families that make a living through farming or ranching in the area, as well as video highlighting the agricultural landscape of Prairie County. The video will premier in October at the Evelyn Cameron Heritage fundraiser.

Continuing the Fight for Women’s Rights: Hazel Hunkins Hallinman, Western Heritage Center, Billings, $1,000. This exhibit is about the life of noted Montana suffragette, Hazel Hunkins Hallinan. The exhibit, titled: “Continuing the Fight for Women’s Rights” will coincide with the upcoming 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and will be unveiled on October 4.

Author Jamie Ford Visit to the Hi-Line of Montana, Harlem Public Library, Harlem, $650. In this lecture series, by bestselling author Jamie Ford, he will discuss his life story, his writing process, and the basis for his successful novels. This series is free and will take place at the Harlem Public Library on September 9, the Blaine County Library on September 10, and the Havre-Hill County Library on September 11.

International Language Week Conference: Global Migration + Mobility, MSU Billings, Billings, $260. The conference includes a series of lectures and discussions that will examine issues of migration, identity, and inter-cultural communication in an increasingly connected world. This annual meeting is the main venue for visiting university partners to participate in joint-teaching activities and workshops offering the opportunity to network, share good practices and develop new ideas.

We are here to help your organization develop the strongest application possible. Marisa Diaz-Waian, executive director of Merlin CCC, shares her experience working with our grant staff.

Grants in Review


To best serve Montana’s communities through stories and conversation, we know we must be responsible stewards of the financial resources with which we have been entrusted.



As we look ahead toward growth and deeper involvement in our communities, we remain committed to fiscal prudence to ensure sustainability and high-quality programming.

Our Supporters

Thank you for investing in the humanities!

Every effort has been made to list all donors accurately. For inquires, corrections, or ways to give, please contact us at (406) 243-4649

About Us

Humanities Montana serves communities through stories and conversation. We offer experiences that nurture imagination and ideas by speaking to Montanans’ diverse history, literature, and philosophy.

2019 Board Members

  • Alden Big Man Jr.
  • Caroline Bitz
    Box Elder
  • Mandy Smoker Broaddus*
  • April Charlo
  • Patty Dean
  • David Dietrich
  • Debbie Garland
  • Lorents Grosfield
    Big Timber
  • Carla Homstad
  • Chris Hopkins
    Miles City
  • David Irion*
  • Mary McCormick
  • Carmen McSpadden*
  • Aaron Parrett
  • Aaron Pruitt, Vice Chair*
  • Penny Redli
  • Laura Mitchell Ross
  • Tobin Miller Shearer, Chair

*Governor’s appointees


In these uncertain times, we are more grateful than ever for your continued support of Humanities Montana and your communities.  This is an unprecedented age for our organization.  With your strength and aid, we are confident that our mission—serving communities through conversation and nurturing ideas—will remain strong now and into the future. Your generosity allows us to bring Montana communities together in conversation.

To stay connected with the humanities, sign up to access our digital programs and discover humanities resources.

Humanities Montana
311 Brantly Missoula, MT 59812