Montana is a western state of the United States and its U.S. postal abbreviation is MT. The name of Montana probably came from the Spanish word "montaña" which means "mountain". Montana has the largest concentration of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states. Montana was the first state to elect a woman to congress, Jeannette Rankin.
Montana became a United States territory on May 26, 1864 and the 41st state on November 8, 1889.
Montana was the scene of the Native Americans′ last effort to keep their land. The last stand of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer was fought in Montana, as were the final battles of the Nez Perce Wars.
Native Americans were the first inhabitants of modern-day Montana. Groups included the Crows in the south-central area, the Cheyenne in the southeast, the Blackfeet, Assiniboine and Gros Ventres in the central and north-central region and the Kootenai and Salish in the western sector. The smaller Pend d′Oreille and Kalispel tribes were found around Flathead Lake and the western mountains, respectively.
Subsequent to the Lewis and Clark expeditions and after the finding of gold and copper in the state in the late 1850′s, Montana became a United States territory (Montana Territory) on May 26, 1864 and the 41st state on November 8, 1889.
Fort Shaw, (Montana Territory), was established in the spring of 1867. Fort Shaw is located west of Great Falls in the Sun River Valley. Fort Shaw was one of three posts authorized to be built by Congress in 1865. The other two posts in the Montana Territory were Camp Cooke on the Judith River and Fort C.F. Smith on the Bozeman Trail in southcentral Montana Territory. Fort Shaw, named after Colonel Robert G. Shaw, who commanded one of the first all African-American regiments (54th Massachusetts) during the American Civil War, was built of adobe and lumber by the 13th Infantry. The fort had a parade ground that was 400 feet square and consisted of barracks for officers, a hospital, and a trading post and could house up to 450 soldiers. Completed in 1868, the fort was used by military personnel until 1891.
After the close of the military post in 1891, the government established Fort Shaw as a school to provide industrial training to young Native-Americans. The Fort Shaw Indian Industrial School was opened on April 30, 1892. The school had at one time 17 faculty members, 11 Indian assistants and 300 students. The school made use of over twenty of the buildings originally built by the Army. In 1902, a group of female students from the Indian school began playing basketball and traveled throughout Montana, defeating high school teams as well as some college teams. In 1904, the girls basketball team traveled by train to the St. Louis World′s Fair. Over five months′ time the team was challenged by numerous other basketball teams and won every contest, returning to Fort Shaw with the "world champion" trophy. On May 1, 2004 a monument in honor of the basketball team was unveiled at the entrance of the present day Fort Shaw Elementary School.
The Enlarged Homestead Act of the early 1900′s greatly affected the settlement of Montana. This Act expanded the land that was provided by the Homestead Act of 1862 from 160 acres to 320 acres. When the latter Act was signed by President Taft, it also reduced the time necessary to prove up from five years to three years and permitted five months absence from the claim each year.
In 1908, the Sun River Irrigation Project, west of Great Falls was opened up for homesteading. Under this Reclamation Act, a person could obtain 40 acres. Most of the people who came to file on these homesteads were young couples who were eager to live near the mountains where hunting and fishing were good. Many of these homesteaders came from the Midwest and Minnesota.
Montana was the scene of the Native Americans′ last effort to keep their land. For instance, the last stand of U.S. Army Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer was fought in Montana near the present day town of Hardin. Montana was also the location of the final battles of the Nez Perce Wars.
Cattle ranching has long been central to Montana′s history and economy. The Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site in Deer Lodge Valley is maintained as a link to the ranching style of the late 19th century. It is operated by the National Park Service, but is also a 1900 acre (7.7 km²) working ranch.
- State flower: Bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva) (since 1895)
- State tree: Ponderosa Pine since 1949
- State animal: Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) (since 1862
- State bird: Western Meadowlark since 1931
- State fish: Blackspotted Cutthroat Trout since 1977
- State Song: "Montana" since 1945
- State Ballad: "Montana Melody" since 1983
- State Gemstones: Yogo Sapphire & Agate
- State Fossil: Duck-billed Dinosaur (Maiasaura peeblesorum) since 1985
- State Butterfly: Mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) since 2001
- State Grass: Bluebunch Wheatgrass since 1973
- State Motto: "Oro y Plata" (gold and silver)
- Shortest river in the world: The Roe River
- In the movie ′Star Trek: First Contact′, Montana is the location of the historical first contact between humans and an alien race, the Vulcans.
- Sweet Grass
- Big Horn
- Golden Valley
- Powder River
- Lewis And Clark
- Judith Basin
- Silver Bow
- Deer Lodge
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