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Museum celebrates Reservation’s history

ARLEE — Fourth of July weekend in Arlee is packed with outdoor activities like the powwow, rodeo, basketball tournament and parades, but the Jocko Valley Museum offers a break from the heat and a look at the area’s rich history.

The museum opens July 4 with several exhibits commemorating various events in the Flathead Reservation’s past. “People, Place and Time – Creating Connections with People, Cultures and Communities” is a traveling exhibit on loan from The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes for July 4 only, featuring large photographs and stories of important events and people of the Flathead Reservation.

“(The exhibit) is quite an event in and of itself,” Arlee Historical Society board member Merrill Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw put together another exhibit titled “Then and Now,” a collection of century-old photographs of various places in the Jocko Valley and surrounding areas contrasted with contemporary pictures taken from the same viewpoints. Over the last few months, Bradshaw hunted locations of old photographs from the Jocko Valley Museum and his own personal collection, shooting new photos of each site to show how the landscape has changed.

“It started out with (Bradshaw) curious about where a picture was taken, and he finally tracked it down,” fellow board member Alvaretta Morin explained. “(The exhibit) is really neat … it was a lot of work.”

Board member Perry Francis also contributed a working antique Smith solar attachment transit — a piece of government equipment used in the early 1900s for surveying public land — to the display. Francis bought the transit at a Bureau of Land Management surplus auction about 35 years ago.

“I paid $35 for it; now it’s worth probably 20 times that,” Francis said. “It’s very close to the instrument used to survey the (Flathead) Reservation for homesteading.”

Copies of the 1855 Hell Gate Treaty, Dawes Act (1887), and The Flathead Allotment Act (1904) also will be available for visitors to read, in addition to educational footlockers from the Montana Historical Society. One footlocker or trunk show called, “To Learn a New Way,” explores the late 1800s through the turn of the century, when Montana Indians were moved to reservations and experienced allotment and boarding schools, and the other, “Inside and Outside the Home: Homesteading in Montana 1900 -1920,” focuses on the thousands of people who came to Montana’s plains in the early 20th century in hopes of make a living through dry-land farming.

For more information on the Jocko Valley Museum, contact Alvaretta at 726-3167, Perry at 360-6250, Aileen at 726-3605 or Merrill at 726-3627.

The Arlee Museum is located at the corner of Bouch and Fyant Streets, kitty corner from the old Arlee Elementary School. After July 4, summer hours will be 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and by appointment.

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