journal notes

July 2003    Issue No. 5 Vol. 2

Montana & Idaho Pay Tribute to Stephen Ambrose

On June 27, 2003, the Montana Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Commission joined with the Idaho Bicentennial Committee to unveil a bronze bas relief plaque that had been commissioned by both states to commemorate the life and leadership of the late Stephen Ambrose. The plaque will be permanently displayed immediately adjacent to a walking trail near the new Lolo Pass Visitor Center. Stephenie Ambrose-Tubbs and her mother, Mora, attended the dedication festivities, as did Hal Stearns representing the Montana Commission.

Commission News

During the state Commission’s May meeting Hal Stearns was elected as Chair, and Homer Staves as Vice-Chair. Congratulations! A special note of appreciation is in order for Jack Lepley who served as chair this past year. Thank you.

Upcoming Meetings

MT L & C Bicentennial Commission:
- Oct. 1-2, 2003, Yogo Inn, Lewistown
- Feb. 10, 2004, Great Falls

RBC/Tribal Representatives Meeting:
- Oct. 1, 2003, Yogo Inn, Lewistown

Annual Fall Conference:
- October 2-3, 2003, Lewistown

Confluence of Cultures Symposium Spurs Reflection

This nationally recognized symposium, held May 28-30, 2003, focused on allowing the American Indian voice to be heard. A crowd approaching 675 heard first hand from a wide array of Indian and non-Indian presenters and performers how the Indian perspective of the Lewis & Clark Expedition differs frequently from previously recorded histories. The success of the symposium could in large part be gauged by hallway conversations as attendees continued to discuss session topics, and most often expressed their desire to know more. Virtually everyone came away with a renewed vision and understanding of cultural similarities and differences. “Where do we go from here?” was an often-asked question; continued dialogue as the Bicentennial continues was a common response. A special “thanks” is in order for the symposium host, the University of Montana, and to the symposium planning team.

8th National Lewis & Clark Planning Conference a Success

The Retrospect of Success Conference was held in Great Falls on April 13-16, 2003. Attended by some 275 people from coast to coast, the conference offered many timely educational opportunities geared primarily toward planning and presently high quality events. Numerous “partner meetings” were held concurrently which facilitated national planning as the Bicentennial commences trail wide. Great evening receptions, programs, and multiple entertainment offerings highlighted the conference. Congratulations Great Falls for taking the lead and for showcasing Montana!

5th Annual Lewis & Clark Conference Planned

Montana’s 5th Annual Lewis & Clark Conference will return to Lewistown’s Yogo Inn this year (the site of Montana’s 1st Annual Conference). Planning is currently underway for the conference that will be held on Thursday and Friday, October 2-3, 2003. Similar to previous years, the conference will be immediately preceded by a meeting of the state Commission. This year’s theme “Many Cultures - One Land” will set the stage for a continuation of sharing and learning initiated during the Confluence of Cultures Symposium this past May. Activities on Tuesday will include a traditional meal and program to start the conference, and an Indian encampment late that afternoon in a nearby city park. Friday will start with a breakfast featuring a yet-to-be-determined guest presenter and will conclude by 2:00 P.M. with some memorable entertainment. The cost for this year’s conference will remain at $75 for early registrations. Mark your calendars now for Lewistown in October. Contact Gail Brockbank at: 406-442-4141 for sponsorship and vendor show information.

Needed: “Touring Historians”

The response to the new on-line listing of Montana Lewis & Clark Guides has been very positive. However, in addition to Step-On Guides, some tour groups are requesting Lewis & Clark Historians that would be available to travel with tour groups for multiple days, and present daily lectures on various aspects of the Expedition. Persons interested in offering their services to satisfy this emerging demand are encouraged to contact the state Commission office.

Montana Tribal Tourism Alliance Hires Coordinator

Dyani Bingham was recently hired to be the first-ever coordinator for the Montana Tribal Tourism Alliance (MTTA), a coalition of representatives from all seven Montana Indian Reservations focused on generating enhanced Indian participation within Montana’s tourism industry. Dyani can be reached at: Box 1224, Billings, MT 59103. Her phone number is: 406-259-4600, and her email address is: MTTA is presently busy on many fronts including preparing for the Fall conference in Lewistown and getting lodges and programs ready for numerous encampments around the state. If you have a question regarding whom to contact within Indian Country in Montana, Dyani can assist you.

2003 Legislative Review

The Montana Legislature came to a close in mid-April with very mixed reviews. State budgets were significantly affected as Legislators struggled to balance a stressed budget. As the dust settled, the state Commission’s financial future was secure, with the annual Operations Grant of bed tax monies committed through the next biennium, and the bicentennial license plate revenue still earmarked for Lewis & Clark projects. Other Legislative developments included:

  • A bill was passed directing the Montana Historical Society and the state Commission to have a Lewis & Clark-themed bronze bas-relief piece of art created and hug on the West wall of the Montana Senate Chambers. An advisory committee of former Senators will provide insight and guidance. Presently a summer, 2005 completion date has been projected.
  • New legislation was passed to allow RV’s and trucks to purchase the Montana Bicentennial license plate. Please tell your friends!
  • Legislators agreed that Tower Rock should remain permanently in state ownership, and that Half Breed Rapids be renamed Pine Island Rapids. Recognition of Reaching the Rockies Chapter is deserved for bringing those issues through to a successful Legislative conclusion.

Montana Scores High With 2003 Challenge Cost Share

Thirty-two Montana groups will receive $861,500 from the 2003 Challenge Cost Share Grants, the National Park Service recently announced. A special thanks to the Montana Congressional delegation for working successfully to keep this very valuable grant program fully funded, and to the National Park Service for continuing to manage this program.

Travel Planning Made Easier

Travel Montana recently launched a new “Corridor Breakout” feature on their Lewis & Clark web site ( Visitors to that frequently accessed site can now more readily access location-specific information on Lewis & Clark-related activities, events and attractions.

Signs of the Expedition

It has been said that Montana is an outdoor museum when referring to Montana’s Lewis & Clark heritage. With that in mind many new interpretive signs have gone up all along the state’s 2,000+ miles. Projects currently underway include:

  • A $20,000 Challenge Cost Share grant secured in 2003 will allow the Montana Tourism & Recreation Initiative (MTRI) to work with five more regional commissions in developing corridor interpretative strategies.
  • A new partnership with the Montana Department of Transportation will facilitate the placement of new Gateway Interpretive Signs in 13 more rest areas within the next two months. This gateway sign featuring an image by Helena artist Bob Morgan will also be available as a poster for various display venues.
  • The Transportation Department has recently agreed to design and install unique Directional Markers on or immediately adjacent to their rights-of-way marking key Lewis & Clark interpretive signage. Detailed program information will be forthcoming soon.

Fundraising Efforts

  • The Lewis & Clark Legacy Campaign continues with new pledges being secured through the work of regional fundraising teams and the Campaign Office. A special section will soon be activated on the state Commission’s web site to offer on-going campaign news and updates.
  • The Montana Bicentennial License Plate is now competing with numerous other specialty plates, but to date new sales continue, and annual renewals appear strong.
  • Three Appropriation Requests are again being touted by Montana’s Congressional delegation in the 108th session (Interpretive Signage $.5M; Public Safety Planning and Equipment $1M; Monies for state Commission’s re-grant program $1M).
  • The Montana National Guard will submit funding requests for the next 3 years specifically for providing assistance to local civil authorities for Bicentennial events.

Montana Lewis & Clark Bicentennial
P O Box 201203
Helena, MT 59620-1203
406-443-2109 ph.
406-444-2686 fax