The Teton Canyon Oral History Project is a collection of interviews of individuals connected to the area that is located 26 miles west of Choteau along the Rocky Mountain Front. Historian Candi Zion, a native of the area, conducted the interviews for the Old Trail Museum with a $5,000 grant from the History Foundation in 2018.
The project collected the oral history of descendants of homesteaders, Métis settlers, dude ranchers, cabin owners, and writers who lived in the area along the North and South Forks of the Teton River on the Rocky Mountain Front. Author A.B. Guthrie, for example, owned a cabin on the North Fork of the Teton River, and many local residents have memories of him. Numerous Métis families also settled in the area and remain there today.
Zion interviewed 13 residents, a project she described as a “slice of Teton Canyon history that delves into the very personal lives of the canyon residents and their connections to each other.” The interviews reveal the individuals’ own experiences, as well as their connections to one another. Among the interviews: Bud Bruno, a Métis elder, talks about the occupations of the Métis; Chuck Blixrud shares details about his life growing up in a cabin on the Front and on their family ranch, and eventually becoming owner of a dude ranch; and Amy Guthrie Sakariassen talks about her stepfather, famous Montana author A.B. (Bud) Guthrie, and his friendships with other well-known Montana writers.
Zion says through the interview process, she was surprised at how some of the interview subjects opened up about their experiences with prejudice against the Métis and the level of that prejudice experienced within their families. That is one topic Zion plans to explore further in a new oral history project with help from a 2020 grant from the History Foundation. This time, she will be interviewing descendants of Métis in the Lewistown area.
Digital recordings of the Teton Canyon oral interviews are available now on the Montana Memory Project website: https://mtmemory.org/digital/collection/p16013coll141