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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

1964 Flood

As I read about flooding in Roundup, I was reminded of a post I wrote in 2012, "Teaching Disasters"--which talked about using disasters as teachable moments, pointed to some essential questions to ask about disasters (for example, "What role did policy and human decisions play in either exacerbating or mitigating the disaster?"), and that gathered historical resources on floods, fires, and earthquakes. You can read that post here.

It also made me remember that this is the 50th anniversary of the 1964 flood, one of the worst disasters in Montana history. High school teachers might want to assign their students Aaron Parrett's article, "Montana's Worst Natural Disaster: The 1964 Flood on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation," published in Montana The Magazine of Western History (Summer 2004): 20-31. (If your high school library doesn't subscribe to Montana, it should.)

The 1964 flood would also make a dandy oral history project/community history project for folks living in areas affected by the flood. It completely transformed the social world of the Blackfeet reservation, for example--after the flood that many Blackfeet moved from rural areas of the reservation to Browning.)  Fifty years ago is a long time ago--but not so long that there aren't people who remember it and students could make a really meaningful contribution to Montana history by gathering and preserving memories of the flood and its aftermath.

Find tips on conducting an oral history project here.

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