Howard Moss, Cowboy - Dixon, MT July 1999. Photo: Marta Brooks
History of Farming and Ranching:
A Study of the Local Culture by St. Ignatius High School
Five St. Ignatius High School students present and
preserve their area's native traditions using text of interviews
with farmers and ranchers of the Mission Valley of Montana and with
26 8 x 10 photographs. The text of a report summarizing their
findings was written by their teacher Marta Brooks. Students in
Brooks' English and history classes used the "heritage education"
approach to the study of local culture. They collected stories,
oral histories, historical documents, art and geological
information that reflect the merging of landscape and culture.
Project materials include interview transcripts with local
residents involved in dairy farming, potato and grain farming,
cattle ranching, horse ranching and hog raising. Included also is
an agriculture report on Lake County by Jack Stivers, County
Montana's agricultural communities rely mainly on
cattle and grain production, yet, on the local level, Montana's
traditional farmers and ranchers are becoming a dying breed.
Although new technologies, improved marketing strategies, and
government involvement may have improved life for some farmers and
ranchers, life has become more complicated for the rural farmer,
who has been beset by successive financial crises and changing
global weather patterns. At the 1999 World Trade Organization
meeting in Seattle, 40 Montana farmers and ranchers gathered to
voice their discontent with agricultural trade barriers that are
pinching them more than other farm communities because of a lack of
diversity. Moreover, the 1990s saw a decrease in Mission Valley in
the numbers of farms and ranches of 100 to 1,000 acres. They were
being replaced by 10 to 40 acre "ranchettes," and with them an
influx of new urban born-and-bred emigres from California or other
states, who had come to escape city ills but who had no roots in
the local traditions and heritage. The change in the local
landscape with the inevitable change in the local culture that
followed have raised the concern of the long-time local farmers and
ranchers and prompted this project to document and preserve the
area's native culture and traditions before they are
Originally submitted by: Max Baucus, Senator.
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.