Recent Posts

Prairie Lights: No easy fix for monumental dilemma


Searching for a voice of reason in a country up to its chin in unreasonable passion, I called Ken Robison, a historian who lives in Great Falls. His words were the tonic I needed. Ken is a native of Montana who grew up near Geraldine and who, since retiring from a career in Naval Intelligence in 2001, has been doggedly doing research into forgotten corners of Montana history, resulting in a stream of books and numerous articles in the Great Falls Tribune and the River Press in Fort Benton. (more…) Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , ,

Opinion: Time to rid Helena of Confederate memorial


As members of the American Indian Caucus of the Montana Legislature, we extend our condolences to the family of Heather Heyer, who lost her life protesting hate and bigotry in Charlottesville, Va. Our hearts also go out to the families of Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke M.M. Bates of the Virginia State Police, who lost their lives while monitoring the rally. Our thoughts and prayers are with Charlottesville and those across this great country who have been hurt physically and emotionally by the despicable actions exhibited by white nationalists. (more…) Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , ,

Murder victim’s family remembers ‘a really good kid’


Ryan Eakin’s presence permeates the family home near Baxendale a few miles west of Helena. A large, framed pastel-and-charcoal portrait of a bison that he drew adorns a living room wall. Old traps, which Ryan painstakingly cleaned using vinegar, hang from the fireplace mantel. A photograph of him at 9 years old, posing with the mountain goat that he hunted with his father, is at the base of the stairway. In the corner rests a wooden walking stick Ryan carved—not to use, but to keep his hands busy. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , ,

Confederacy gets its just deserts

battle flag

At the Montana Preservation Road Show in Red Lodge on Thursday, somebody asked Carroll Van West what he thought about the controversy over the Confederate memorial in Helena. What an off-the-wall question, I thought. But it turned out that West was the perfect person to answer it. He not only is a noted historian, author, college professor and preservationist, he served on the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. He replied that had he been asked to testify about the Helena memorial, he would have said the same thing he said in Tennessee: “It’s important to keep these layers of history within the landscape.” Memorials like the one in Helena show where we were in the past and where we could end up again, he said. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , ,

Prairie Lights: Inspired by Lee, a job posting of our own


They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. That’s why I’m posting a job description today in place of the regular column. I’m really not in any position yet to take on an employee, but I was so impressed with the job descriptions posted by the Lee newspapers of Montana that I felt compelled to write my own. (more…) Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , ,

Novella paints vivid portrait of Montana Territory

Tom Keith has never lived in Montana, but he has written a fine novella about the adventures of a man seeking a new life in Montana Territory in 1882. The self-published book, “When Everything Changed,” is very loosely based on the life of Keith’s great-grandfather, Mell Keith—named Daniel McHarg in the book—who arrived in Fort Benton aboard the steamboat Red Cloud in 1881. (more…) Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

‘Livability’ list is meaningless … and irresistible

There are two things about all those “best of” lists that newspapers, magazines and websites love to publish: 1) they’re mostly bullshit, and 2) they’re irresistible. The main objective of all these lists — the skinniest city in America, the most business-friendly, the best place to raise a family, the best outdoor city, etc. — is to sell more newspapers or magazines or steer readers to your website. The criteria are often questionable and the question of how to assign value once you’ve established criteria is more questionable still. And yet they are irresistible. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , ,

Singer-songwriter Brown still shines during slow fade


Greg Brown has always been inclined toward solitary pursuits. The 65-year-old singer-songwriter still loses himself in the pure feeling of fishing. When Brown performs Sunday at the Myrna Loy Center, in Helena, his mission will be more than just music — it will be about sharing that pure feeling. (more…) Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Big Dipper Ice Cream coming to downtown Billings


Big Dipper Ice Cream, a popular Missoula ice cream parlor that was featured on “Good Morning America,” is coming to downtown Billings. The store will be jointly owned by Big Dipper founder Charlie Beaton and Bryan and Sarah Hickey. Bryan Hickey said they hope to start renovating their downtown location in October and open “ideally by Valentine’s Day 2015.” (more…) Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,