Native News Honors Project is reported, photographed, edited and
designed by students at The University of Montana School of Journalism.
This is the 14th annual edition of Montana Indians.
Financial support for this project was provided
by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the University
of Montana School of Journalism. The Davidson Honors College at
UM and the Great Falls Tribune, Billings Gazette and Missoulian
also contributed funds for the publication.
The School of Journalism appreciates the
advice and counsel received from Donna McCrea, head of archives
at Mansfield Library; Jodi R. Rave, national correspondent for Lee
Enterprises; Michael Rollins, Living section editor at The Oregonian;
Renée Taaffe, education curator at the Missoula Art Museum;
photographer David Spear; educator Jennifer Greene; Salish Kootenai
College students Wayne Smith, Vonnie Jo Alberts and Kolynn Plumage;
and photojournalist Amber D’Hooge.
If you have comments about this series,
we’d like to hear from you.
Native News Honors Project, School of Journalism, 32 Campus Drive,
University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812, or email us at:
Residents sit outside
of Ick’s Place, a liquor store on the main street in Browning.
American Indians living in Montana report
that their ethnicity matters in nearly every aspect of their lives.
It matters in understanding who they are, where they are from, and
where they are going. It matters in their sense of community, their
culture, their religion. Often it’s part of facing, with their
communities, the social ills that persist in places where poverty
and a lack of jobs tear at the fabric of a place.
But in Montana being Indian also often means
dealing with racism, of encountering people who treat you differently
because of the color of your skin. Sometimes that treatment comes
from outside Indian communities, but sometimes it is internal, stemming
perhaps from inter-tribal jealousy or suspicion.
Journalism students at the University of
Montana set out to investigate how Montanans’ perceptions
of people who are of a different race — or a different tribe
— affect the way we treat one another. They traveled to all
seven of the state’s reservations and, in some cases, to towns
that border reservations to see how people of different races and
What they found is that in Montana, race
The region’s first residents are frequently
treated as if they don’t belong, or aren’t welcome here.
Of course, not all Montanans display that perception and many Montanans
of all backgrounds are working hard to ensure all of us are treated
with civility and respect. The students did not make judgments about
what was in the minds of the people whose stories are told here.
But they have reported what they saw so that you can reach your
Race is about peoples’ perceptions.
In this publication we invite you to see how those perceptions can
affect the daily lives of the state’s 70,000 Indians.
Click Index to see
a complete list of Montana reservations and stories.
issue 2004 was a winner of the national Robert F. Kennedy Journalism