Montana looks back (and forward) at its Black history
Joe Edmon | 2/10/2006
Projects work to record, recognize history of state’s African-Americans
Aided by a $14,000 legislative appropriation, the Montana Historical Society is kicking off a two-year project to gather and catalogue all of its resources linked to African-American history — now uncatalogued and scattered throughout its collections — in a searchable computer database.
The project will fill a gaping void of information about a people who, although they remain a small minority, made a lasting impression on Montana.
“We haven’t done justice to our own history here,” Robison said.
Finding the stories of Montana’s African-American settlers is far more challenging than those of whites.
A few survived.
Much was written of Mary Fields, a freed slave who went to work at the St. Peter’s Mission north of Cascade.
Known for her cussing, drinking and pistol-packing ways, she became Cascade’s postmaster, one of the first women in the nation to hold the job.
Other famed black Montanans include opera singer Emmanuel Gordon of White Sulphur Springs and, of course, York, William Clark’s slave who was a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.