Montana History Foundation announces statewide grants

Posted April 12, 2019

This story ran in The Ekalaka Eagle on April 12, 2019.

Since 2012, the Montana History Foundation (MHF) has awarded annual grants to projects and organizations that work to preserve and protect the historic legacy of Montana. This year, the foundation reached a new record, giving away the largest amount ever at $134,451 and bringing all-time grant awards to $843,985.

“Awarding grants is the most important thing we do every year,” said MHF President/CEO Charlene Porsild. “The future of these history projects relies on grant funding, and we are delighted to impact the future of Montana’s history by offering support.”

This year, grants will support projects from Libby to Sidney and twenty-seven other communities throughout the state. In total, 33 organizations will receive grant funds. In St. Ignatius, funds will be used to reroof Montana’s oldest standing building. Locally, Carter County Museum received $2,100 from MHF to create the Project Archaeology curriculum Investigating Rock Art: Medicine Rocks State Park.

“We’re on a mission to support projects small and large in every county in the state,” Porsild said. “This is the first year we’ve funded a project in Judith Basin, which means we’ve helped 46 out of the 56 Montana counties.”

About the curriculum

Carter County Museum staff will write the curriculum in consultation with Montana State Parks, Project Archaeology and members of indigenous nations with oral histories related to the park area. Project Archaeology is a national educational organization based at Montana State University that uses archaeological inquiry to foster understanding of past and present cultures; improves social studies and science education; and enhances citizenship education to help preserve our archaeological legacy. The museum has a historical and ongoing relationship with Medicine Rocks State Park and is recognized by visitors as a resource for information about the park and its history.

A short drive from Ekalaka, Medicine Rocks State Park was inducted into the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of thousands of inscriptions present throughout the park, representing over 2,000 years of human interaction with the area. By the late 1800s, Medicine Rocks was a camping destination and Carter County retained ownership of the area from the depression era to 1957, when commissioners deeded the land to the State of Montana for use as a state park. In 2018, the park had 19,000 visitors – its highest ever attendance.

As attendance increase, so too does the need for education about the historical inscriptions within the park. Rock art sites spark imagination and enable communities to recognize and learn about the diverse cultural traditions and relationships to the landscapes people have inhabited.

The curriculum will be for third through fifth grade students and will communicate the archaeological resources of Carter County, their stewardship and promote cultural understanding on the tribes in the region. Once the curriculum is released, workshops will be scheduled for teachers on how it can be incorporated into their classroom. All Project Archaeology curricula conform to Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. For more information on Project Archaeology, visit projectarchaeology.org.

The 2019 grant winners reflect the high quality of preservation work being accomplished across the state. A full list of grantees can be found online at http://www.mthistory.org/grants. Additional information about specific projects can be obtained by contacting History Foundation Grants Manager, Carissa Beckwith at [email protected] or (406) 449-3770.

Funding for the Montana History Foundation Grants Program comes from a variety of private sources, including a grant from the Fortin Foundation, a grant from the Louis L. Borick Foundation, and donations from generous and dedicated donors.