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Timeline of Montana History

By EzG
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    Settlement Pushes New Tribes Into Montana

    Although each individual tribe chronicles this century differently, many Native Americans had to fight over lands to establish new territories as Europeans began to push west.
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    Montana Tribes Utilize Horses and Guns

    The addition of horses and guns to tribal culture brought changes to how life was lived. Horses, which came from what is now New Mexico, and guns, which came from the northeast, gave power to Indians. Guns both made intertribal wars more frequent and made trade crucial to supply needed ammunition, but brought strength to tribes. In addition, horses became a more efficient replacement for dogs, which had been used by tribes for 10,000 years. Dogs were not as strong and required food from hunts.
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    Smallpox Sweeps Through Tribes

    When Smallpox arrived in the States from European settlers, it quickly spread to native communities. Because of the lack of care or immunizations, the effects of the epidemic were devastating. It's estimated that 50 to 90 percent of Native Americans died. Without smallpox, the history of our country could have been very different.
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    Lewis and Clark Expedition

    After the Louisianna Purchase of 1803, Thomas Jefferson formed the Corps of Discovery. Headed by Jefferson's assistant Merriweather Lewis and Lewis' friend William Clark, the expedition set off to find the 'Northern Passage' which supposedly was a transcontinental water system that would allow easy transport. They never found the passage, but thanks to the hospitality and help from tribes, they returned to St. Louis in September 1806.
  • First Fur Post Established In Montana

    First Fur Post Established In Montana
    Standing at the junction of the Yellowstone and Bighorn Rivers, the Fort Manuel Lisa, named after Spanish - American, Manuel Lisa, became the first fur post. Two years late, in 1809, Lisa and several partners created the St. Louis Missouri Fur Company. In the years to follow, other fur companies, such as the American Fur Company, competed with the St. Louis Missouri Company.
  • Cattle Ranching Begins

    Cattle Ranching Begins
    Because of the cheap or even free lands, the plentiful grass, and the economic and social demand, the cattle industry boomed. First supplied to trading posts, cattle led wagons across the west and supplied food. This made the business of raising cattle profitable. Later, the industry established grazing districts, branding, and a cooperative roundup which made the industry more systematic and organized. Innovations such as barbed wire helped the industry to prosper.
  • Fort Laramie Treaty (1851)

    Fort Laramie Treaty (1851)
    The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 involved members of the Lakota, Crow, Assiniboine, Gros Ventre, Northern Cheyenne, Shoshone, and other tribes. The treaty defined the boundaries of each tribe's territory and asked them to make peace with each other. In addition, the treaty allowed settlers to cross tribal land and gave the right to the U.S. to build establishments, roads, or forts on tribal lands. In exchange, the U.S. payed the tribes 1.3 million dollars each year for 10 years.
  • Hellgate Treaty (1855)

    Hellgate Treaty (1855)
    The Hellgate Treaty involved the Kootenai, Salish, and Pend
    d’Oreille tribes. In the treaty's negotiation, the U.S. Government thought that they had agreed to move the above tribes to the present day Flathead Reservation in exchange for providing a small amount of compensation in the form of annuities. The tribes thought that they had agreed to share a small amount of land with settlers. This two sided narrative was due to poor translation and interpretation.
  • Lame Bull Treaty (1855)

    Lame Bull Treaty (1855)
    Again due to misinterpretation, the Lame Bull Treaty led to different perspectives on what had been agreed upon. The Blackfeet tribe (who were the main party in the treaty) thought that the Lame Bull Treaty solidified friendship between tribal nations and the U.S. Instead, the government stated that all land not set aside as reservations could be settled.
  • Montana Gold Rush Starts

    Montana Gold Rush Starts
    In the early 1850s, a small amount of gold was found in Deer Lodge Valley by a fur trapper called Benetsee. Later, brothers James and Granville Stuart laid claim to an area that they called 'gold creek.' They sent a letter to their brother in Colorado which sparked the rush into Montana that started the gold rush.
  • Homestead Act is Passed

    Homestead Act is Passed
    The first homestead act, which allowed settlers to claim 160 acres as private land as long as they built a house, planted crops, and stayed on the land for 5 years, was passed in congress. In the 124 years of homesteading, 10 percent (or 270 million acres) of the nation's land became private. Montana's dry land did not attract homesteaders until the 1900s.
  • Fort Laramie Treaty (1868)

    Fort Laramie Treaty (1868)
    Even thought the government viewed this treaty as a second chance for tribes, the second Fort Laramie Treaty broke alliances and created conflict. The treaty gave land in the Dakotas to the Sioux while taking away fro the Crow, who were U.S. allies. Supplies like seed, schooling, and government agencies were also promised, but once again the Northern Cheyenne and the Northern Arapaho's lands were not acknowledged at all.
  • Yellowstone National Park Establishment

    Yellowstone National Park Establishment
    The U.S. Congress passes legislation that makes Yellowstone the first piece of public land allocated as a national park.
  • Battle of Little Bighorn

    Battle of Little Bighorn
    In what marked a resounding defeat for the U.S. army, 1,500 Sioux and Northern Cheyenne warriors swarmed the Seventh Calvary, lead by General Custer. In less than 3 hours, the battle was over and Custer and his immediate command were dead.
  • Sitting Bull Surrenders to the U.S. Army

    Sitting Bull Surrenders to the U.S. Army
    Sitting Bull, who helped lead the Sioux in the Battle of Little Bighorn, returned from Canada where he and his group had fled after the Great Sioux War. When he arrived in the United States, this signified his defeat. At the time, populations of buffalo along with smaller animals had been decimated.
  • Butte Welcomes the Utah and Northern Railroad

    Butte Welcomes the Utah and Northern Railroad
    Following the completion of the Union Pacific Railroad, which came within 500 miles of Montana's goldfields, construction of the Utah and Northern Railroad began. The new railroad ran roughly parallel to the Corrine Road. After 9 years of construction, the Utah and Northern Railroad reached Butte.
  • Copper Boom Begins in Butte

    Copper Boom Begins in Butte
    When electricity and telephones became more accessible to Americans, the need for copper, which conducts heat, voice transmission, and electricity, went up. Montana's copper became crucial to the American economy, and in 1900, Butte and Anaconda's produced 61 percent of America's copper.
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    Starvation Winter

    As tribes' original ways of life became increasingly impossible, Native Americans relied on annuities supplied by the U.S., however many of these annuities never arrived. This led to what is now called 'Starvation Winter', when in the winter of 1883 - 84 many Native Americans died. 1/4 (600) of the Blackfeet, 300 Assiniboine, and Gros Ventre and Sioux died that winter. In the years following, tribes began to sell their only remaining resource; their land.
  • Native American Tribes Shrink as Railroads Boom

    Native American Tribes Shrink as Railroads Boom
    After the Great Northern Railroad (formed by railroad tycoon James Hill) urged congress to allow rails to pass over tribal lands, tribes had few choices but to give up their lands; their population needed the money promised to them, which is equivalent to approximately 33 million dollars today, but never saw large portions of it. This agreement took away 17 million acres of land from the Assiniboine, Gros Ventre, and Blackfeet tribes.
  • Montana Gains Statehood

    Montana Gains Statehood
    From the start of European settlement in Montana, settlers seeked statehood so Montana could have voting power in congress, control its own funds, and receive a land grant. Because 60,000 non - native residents were needed to draft a state constitution, Montana had to wait until 1884 to officially draft a constitution. Then, due to national politics, their statehood was delayed by 5 years. Finally, in 1889, President Grover Cleveland signed a law making Montana a state.
  • Montana Women Gain Voting Rights

    Montana Women Gain Voting Rights
    When Montana became the ninth state to give women the right to vote, the political landscape of the state became forever altered. Many women homesteaders advocated for prohibition and were apposed to saloons, gamblings houses, and dance halls. In addition, homesteaders reduced the control that the railroad and mining industries had on local elections. Women also sent the first female to Congress, Jeanette Rankin, both in 1916 and 1940.
  • Drought Returns and Poses Challenges to Farmers

    Drought Returns and Poses Challenges to Farmers
    When drought returned, the farming industry was hit hard. A farmer's annual yield was cut in half and as the drought worsened into its second year, bushels of grain per acre were a tenth of what they once were. 100 degree weather was common and less than 10 inches of rain fell each year. The dry weather spread throughout Montana and reached as far west as the Bitterroot and Flathead valleys. These conditions forced farmers to give up their operations.
  • Speculator Mine Becomes Worst Disaster in Hard - Rock Mining History

    Speculator Mine Becomes Worst Disaster in Hard - Rock Mining History
    The Speculator Mine disaster started when a shift boss ignited a cable's insulation on fire with his headlamp. The mine's main shaft was engulfed in flames and fumes released from the fire forced miners to run for shelter. This, however, was almost impossible for miners; mandated escape routes had not been created and concrete barriers separating mine shafts trapped miners. In total, dozens were injured and 168 died.
  • 1918 Sedition Law Passed

    1918 Sedition Law Passed
    Montana's 1918 sedition law blatantly disregarded an American's right to free speech. The law imposed fines and jail time to Montanans who were considered to be against the government. Some went to prison for 10 - 20 years simply because of comments against the war. In addition, hundreds of thousands of dollars had to be paid by the supposed seditionist. Many reports of sedition were attempts to gain revenge or an upper hand in arguments. Later, congress used the law as a model for a federal law
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    Hardship Spreads Across Montana

    After the 1918 Spanish Flu, which left many young Montanans dead, 1/2 of Montana farmers lost their farms. From 1921 to 1925, 70,000 out of the 82,000 immigrants that had lived in the state left Montana. Entire farming communities were effected; banks foreclose on farmers, schools closed, and shops went bankrupt. Even banks closed when loans from farmers weren't payed. Some Montanan's life savings were gone. Local governments took citizens' lands and soon the county owned large amounts of land.
  • Native Americans Become U.S. Citizens

    Native Americans Become U.S. Citizens
    After Native Americans fought in WWI, progressive congressional delegates drafted legislation that made American Indians citizens of the U.S. These representatives thought that American Indians had shown their allegiance to the U.S. through fighting in the war. Many saw this measure as ironic because of the fact that Native Americans had been living in the U.S. for thousands of years before European settlers established America