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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Top Ten Survey Results, Part 1

Thanks to all of you who took the time to take my “Top Ten Events in Montana History Survey.” I’ll report on the survey results in a future post, but thought I’d begin by sharing some of the comments I received, which were as interesting (I thought) as the survey results themselves.

Several people had suggestions for events that should have been on the survey, but weren’t.

The most common suggestion was Jeannette Rankin’s election to Congress/her vote against the wars/ and/or women’s suffrage. One commenter even scolded, “oh please, but you didn't put Jeanette Rankin in the top ten list???? No mention of when Women got "The Vote"? Who put the list together? I know you have Women working at the Historical Society.”

Others lobbied for the addition of these events: the creation of the federal forest system, creation of Glacier National Park; the transition from territory to state, anti-government events like the Freemen and the Unabomber, the arrival of people in what is now Montana (according to archaeological evidence this happened roughly 12, 000 years ago), the Mandate of Indian Ed for All, 1972. More than one person mentioned earthquakes, particularly the one that created Hebgen Lake.
Some thought the large forces of immigration, industrialization, and urbanization should have received more play:
  • “While it could be counted under ‘development of the copper industry,’ I'd add ‘mass immigration from all over the world,’ wrote one participant. 
  • Another wrote: “Industrialization and urbanization - admittedly a process not an event. Wasn't Montana and the West generally "urban" before it became "rural"? I rely on the work of Richard White and others as a warrant for that proposition. However, I find that, in the classroom, Montana and Western history generally is still taught within a progressive Turnerian framework: first, the Indians, then the trappers, then the miners, then the settlers, then the cities, then the industries etc., etc.”

Others wanted the survey to have been even more specific:
  • “I was thinking of an "event" as a single moment in time; these are more epochs or eras, covering a broader period of time. For example, the 1855 Hellgate Treaty is an "event" of great significance within the context of Indian wars and treaty-making, which is much broader. Fun, though!”
  • “I would have added the many ways Montana was involved in World War II - Hamilton, the Manhattan Project - the balloon bombs. As well as the role of Fort Harrison as the initial home of the Special Forces.”
One person argued for focusing more on ways Montanans have helped one another:  
  • “I wish there was more recognition (time for) toward Indian Agents who took time to assist those they were responsible for who were accepted into their roles – the Ronans for example. The influenza outbreak in 1918 and the pastors, doctors and neighbors who helped save members of their communities. The central theme I have always felt about Montana is that neighbors watch out for one another. Examples from our history are needed to help instill this in our future. I have more ideas but you asked for a simple answer so I will stop there.”

And some thought we should look at other large themes:
  • Native issues couched not in wars but in the transition from a nomadic life to boundaries - promises made, intent of governments
  • How a frontier state meshes with a highly industrial nation
  • How money comes into the state - what stays here, what leaves 
  • Electorally how a session every two years enables citizen government.

People who responded on our Facebook page tended to be more specific and/or more focused on the twentieth century than those who responded to the survey itself:
  • Flight of the Nez Perce through the Bitterroot Valley
  • Closing down the Anaconda Company
  • Electricity deregulation
  • Jeannette Rankin, first woman elected to Congress
  • The constitutional amendment that corporations are not people: Once again, Montana leads and with luck the rest of the nation will follow. 

Finally—lots of people found it hard to pick just ten events, and some of them wanted to explain their choices:
  • “Several events I have listed as ‘not top 10’ because I'd interweave my lessons to include them. I tried to pick the ‘Big Idea’ item as my Top 10 and the other topics/events would be under it. RE: Copper King War--this would be a side note to the larger story about copper production. Likewise gold discovery would probably begin the unit, but the big event would be copper and electrification. In that story would also focus on unions, the Progressive Era, and MT's importance in WWI.”
  •  “In my case (resource) I have fewer direct historical instruction moments, but when I do I lump more together - treaties/reservations, Lewis and Clark/fur trading, gold/Indian removal, for example.”
 More on the actual survey results in future posts.

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