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Montana, US (Population: 944,632)

State Capitol: Helena

Major Cities: Billings, Missoula, Great Falls, Butte, Bozeman, Kalispell, Havre, Anaconda, Miles City

State Nickname/Motto: Treasure State – Oro y plata: Gold and Silver

Statehood Granted: November 8, 1889

History: American Indians were among the first of many inhabitants of the state of Montana. Groups included the Crow in the south-central area, the Cheyenne in the southeast, the Blackfeet, Assiniboine and Gros Ventres in the central and north-central area and the Kootenai and Salish in the west. The smaller Pend d'Oreille and Kalispel tribes were found around Flathead Lake and the western mountains, respectively. Montana east of the continental divide was part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Subsequent to the Lewis and Clark Expedition and after the finding of gold and copper in the state in the late 1850s, Montana became a United States territory on May 26, 1864. Montana was the scene of the Native Americans' last effort to keep their land, and the last stand of U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer was fought near the present day town of Hardin. Montana was also the location of the final battles of the Nez Perce Wars.

Geography: Highest point: Granite Peak 12,799 feet. To the north, Montana and Canada share a 545-mile border. The state borders the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, more provinces than any other state. To the east, the state borders North Dakota and part of South Dakota. To the south is Wyoming and to the west and southwest is Idaho. The topography of the state is diverse and somewhat defined by the Continental Divide, which runs on an approximate diagonal through the state from northwest to south-central, splitting it into two distinct eastern and western regions. Montana is well known for its mountainous western region, part of the northern Rocky Mountains. However, about 60% of the state is actually prairie, part of the northern Great Plains. There are a number of isolated "Island Ranges" that dot the prairie. The Bitterroot Mountains divide the state from Idaho to the west with the southern third of the range blending into the Continental Divide.

Ethnic Diversity: One Race (98.3%), White (90.6%), Black or African American (0.5%), American Indian and Alaska Native (6.0%), Asian (0.6%), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (0.1%), Some other race (0.5), Two or more races (1.7%), Hispanic or Latino (2.2%)*

Famous State People:

  • Charles Marion Russell (1864-1926) Charles Marion Russell was many things: consummate Westerner, historian, advocate of the Northern Plains Indians, cowboy, outdoorsman, writer, philosopher, environmentalist and conservationist, and not least, artist. Moved to the Judith Basin of Montana in 1880.
  • Marcus Daly (1841-1900) Founded the city of Anaconda.
  • Jeannette Rankin (1880 - 1973) A Montana Republican, became the first woman to serve in Congress in 1917; born in Missoula.
  • Dorothy Baker (1907 - 1968) Author; born in Missoula.
  • Will James (1892 - 1942) Artist/Writer; lived in Billings.
  • Evel Knievel (1938 - ) Daredevil motorcyclist; born in Butte.
  • George Montgomery (1916 - 2000) Actor; born in Brady.
  • Gary Cooper (1901 - 1961) Became a famous actor in the 1930s; born in Helena.
  • Alfred Bertram Guthrie (1901 - 1981) Pulitzer Prize-winning author; lived in Choteau.
  • Jerry Kramer (1936 - ) Football player; born in Jordan.
  • Dave McNally (1942- 2002) The only baseball pitcher to hit a grand slam home run in a World Series; born in Billings.
  • Dirk Benedict (1945 - ) Actor; born in Helena.
  • Chet Huntley (1911 - 1974) TV newscaster; born in Cardwell.
  • David Lynch (1946 - ) Filmmaker; born in Missoula.
  • Myrnal Loy - (1905 - 1993) Legendary actress; born in Radersburg.

  • Major Colleges/Universities: Montana State University System, University of Montana, Little Big Horn College, Salish Kootenai College, Stone Child College, Carroll College, University of Great Falls, Rocky Mountain College, Fort Peck Community College

    State and National Parks: Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park (portions lie within the state), Little Big Horn National Monument, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Big Hole National Battlefield, National Bison Range, Nez Perce National Historical Park

    Misc: The economy of Montana is primarily based on agriculture of wheat, barley, sugar beets, oats, rye, seed potatoes, honey, cherries, cattle and sheep ranching. Significant numbers of lumber and mineral extraction operations have fueled the state economy since the early days of the territory (gold, coal, silver, talc, and vermiculite). Tourism is also important to the economy with millions of visitors a year to Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake, the Missouri River headwaters, the site of the Battle of Little Bighorn and three of the five entrances to Yellowstone National Park. Several Indian reservations are located in Montana: Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, Crow Indian Reservation, Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation, Blackfeet Indian Reservation, and the Flathead Indian Reservation.

    *U.S. Census - 2005