Montana Ethic Project: Our history, heroes and character


Joey and Libbie Early

Chuck Tooley talks about “The Montana Character.”

This is the seventh chapter of the 32-part video series “The Montana Ethic Project.” This chapter features Chuck Tooley speaking on “The Montana Character.” Tooley is a former mayor of Billings—the longest-serving mayor in the city’s history, in fact—and now the owner of Tooley Communications. You can watch the whole video below. After reading the preamble to the Montana Constitution, Tooley begins his presentation by saying:

“I believe that the majesty of our state reinforces the character of our people. I feel Montana in me as much as I feel a part of it. When I fill my lungs in the wide open spaces, or in the forest, or in the mountains, or on the banks of a rushing stream it connects me to all creation.

“And I’m not the only one.”

Here is another, edited excerpt from Tooley’s presentation. He has already mentioned how Charlie Russell and Jeannette Rankin were the two Montanans whose statues represent the state in the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol:

“Alongside Charlie Russell stands Jeannette Rankin, a Montana rancher’s daughter and the first woman elected to the United States Congress. Jeannette ran on a platform of, among other things, National Suffrage for women, protective legislation for children, and preparedness that would make for peace.

“Her first vote after taking her seat in the House of Representatives was against America’s entrance into World War I. She did not return to the House after that term, but 22 years later she was elected again to Congress and took office in 1941. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7th of that year, Congresswoman Rankin voted against a declaration of war. As a woman she said, “As a woman, I can’t go to war… and I refuse to send anyone else.”

“What does it tell you about a state of ranchers and miners and farmers and loggers and businessmen when it elects the first woman to Congress? And what does it tell about a state that is steeped in patriotism, and whose soldiers who have a proud record in battle, when it chooses Jeannette Rankin for National Statuary honor?

“It tells me that Montanans value integrity over any individual political issue. They value courage and conviction over expedience.”

PERC_Logo_MontanaEthicPERC—the Property & Environment Research Center—is a proud sponsor of the Montana Ethic Project. To learn how PERC’s ideas can help us honor one another’s rights to land, water, and wildlife, visit


First week: Project introduction.

Second week: Richard Drake on “Terrorism and the Consolation of History.”

Third week: Mike Gear on “The Value of Athletics.”

Fourth week: Franke Wilmer on “Gender Equity.”

Fifth week: Gordon Brittan: “The Founding Fathers.”

Sixth week: Jim Posewitz: “Montana Sportsmen and the Hunter’s Ethic.”

Seventh week: The Rev. Jessica Crist: “Religion and Politics: Can They Co-exist?”

Next week: Steve Bullock: “Citizens United v. Montana.”

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