Recent Posts

Opinion: When you vote, listen to the children


“I cried … I was praying to God … I didn’t want to die … I want to live to be old like you.”
Guns and kids are tragically intertwined today in America.  It shouldn’t be so, but it is.  From Columbine to Sandy Hook to Parkland and dozens more, our minds are haunted by the image of innocent young bodies brutally shattered and shredded by the effects of high-powered military weaponry. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Hail Columbia Gulch: Tales from a feral childhood


I enjoyed some time recently with an old friend who shared memories and photographs of her early childhood on a scratch-gravel South Dakota farm before it even had electricity. The photos in particular elicited powerful memories of my own. I was too young to remember when electricity was installed at my family’s summer place in the mid-1950s. I do recall the day when the much-anticipated telephone service arrived to Hail Columbia Gulch. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Butte folk festival a success, planning underway for 2018


In a press release issued Wednesday, the people behind the Montana Folk Festival in Butte declared that the 2017 festival, which concluded on Sunday was a “tremendous artistic and economic success.” This will come as good news to all the thousands of devoted fans of the peerless festival, which has been going for 10 years now—three years as the National Folk Festival, produced by the National Council for the Traditional Arts, and the past seven as the Montana Folk Festival, produced by Mainstreet Uptown Butte. “The festival was a success on every metric we use to evaluate it,” festival director George Everett said in the press release. “This was the best and most beautiful Montana Folk Festival we have produced in a decade.” Everett gave much of the credit to more than 850 festival volunteers, with whose help they were able to “properly greet and entertain thousands of guests this past weekend, including friends and family from throughout the world.” Continue Reading →

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From this year’s Grand Slam winner, a look at Butte


Editor’s note: The seventh annual High Plains Grand Slam, a poetry competition held in conjunction with the High Plains BookFest, played out Thursday night before a standing-room-only crowd at the MoAv Coffee House. With 14 competitors entered in the verbal throwdown, it was the largest and without a doubt the best slam we’ve seen here in Billings. The winner—and now the first person to have won the title twice—was Pete Tolton, of Billings. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Montana Ethic Project: Sharing the good and bad of progress


This is the 26th chapter of the 32-part video series “The Montana Ethic Project.” This chapter features Timothy James LeCain, an associate professor of history and director of graduate studies at Montana State University in Bozeman, discussing the question, “An Ethical Nature?” You can watch the whole video below. Here is an edited transcript of how it begins:

(more…) Continue Reading →

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Montana Folk Festival needs our help


Editor’s note:  Anybody who has followed Last Best News since our founding knows that I am a big fan of the Montana Folk Festival in Butte. I believe I once referred to it as the coolest event in the history of Montana, and I was not exaggerating. I’ve written about it on more than a few occasions, and I have also posted lots of photographs of the festival, mine own and those of Anna Paige. And now the folk festival needs our help. Here’s the whole story, in the form of a press release from the festival. Continue Reading →

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In Butte, a small victory over bigotry


On this Fourth of July, let’s count our blessings by reading a truly funny piece of work from Robert Kirby, a columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune. One blessing is freedom of speech, which gave a couple of out-of-staters staying in a Butte hotel the right to display their monumental jackassery, to demonstrate the essence of what it is to be a supporter of Donald Trump. That same freedom allowed our columnist, who “sensed an opportunity to make things worse,” to directly confront the Trumpsters and expose them for the mindless bigots they were. There is also freedom of the press, which allowed the Tribune to publish Kirby’s column. And now we all have the freedom to laugh (this right has more to do with the Declaration of Independence than the Constitution, but hey, it’s the Fourth of July) at Kirby’s brilliance. Continue Reading →

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Butte’s Rob O’Neill, famous SEAL, arrested for DUI


Butte native Rob O’Neill,best known as the member of the Navy SEAL Team Six credited with shooting Osama bin Laden, was arrested for driving under the influence at 2:30 a.m. Friday in Butte. He was found asleep at the wheel of a 2005 Nissan at the Town Pump, 531 S. Montana St. The car was running, police said. O’Neill failed a portion of the field sobriety maneuvers administered at the scene, and he failed the rest of the test at the detention center, police said. O’Neill was in Butte to attend a birthday celebration at the Butte Depot, a local bar. Continue Reading →

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Book review: Backwoods memoir a gripping read

People fall into two categories: A. Those who think that giving up civilization and going to live alone in the woods would be a rich, romantic and unforgettable adventure. B. Those who think that being in Category A would be at least slightly worse than prison. Readers of Julie Riddle’s “The Solace of Stones” (University of Nebraska Press) who already fall into Category B will find plenty of good reasons to stay there. And readers in Category A may sense themselves slowly slipping into Category B.

It’s not that the Montana life Riddle describes was all that horrible. When she was a toddler, her parents moved her and her 3-year-old brother from Tucson, Ariz., to the edge of the Cabinet Mountains near Troy. Continue Reading →

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