Speaker series: Indian tales to be told at Range Riders

Denise Hartse
Star Staff Writer

Native Americans are the first contributors to the culture of Big Sky Country, according to Hal Stearns of Missoula. Stearns, an instructor for the University of Montana’s Lifelong Learning Institute and Humanities Montana, has a particularly fond interest in sharing his passion for Montana, the West and education with community members, students, teachers and administrators.

On Sunday, he will bring his program, “Some Favorite Indian Stories,” to Miles City. The Range Riders will host his free 90-minute Montana Conversations presentation starting at 2 p.m. in the Pioneer Memorial Hall at the Range Riders Museum.

The program is paid for by a grant from Humanities Montana.

“This is one of the ways the museum gives back to the community,” said museum curator Bunny Miller. 

Refreshments will be served after the presentation and Stearns will stick around to visit.

“Hal has always been good about answering everyone’s questions,” Miller said.

Stearns said in a news release that he feels that Native Americans’ impact on the arts and our joint history and literature continues into the present, according to a news release from Humanities Montana.

From tribal stories and ancient histories to historical individuals such as Sitting Bull, Plenty Coups, Sacagawea, Eloise Cobell and the Fort Shaw Girls’ Basketball Team of 1904, all of these stories add to the vibrancy and deep meaning of the Big Sky Country, the news release said.

Stearns added that together they provide a broad panorama to our whole wide and fascinating history.

“The people who come here who have a very animated or hands-on presentation seem to be the ones who our guests enjoy the most,” said Miller. “And Hal’s presentations are spirited.”

Stearns, an educator for 34 years, has led tours coast to coast. He has lectured in more than 40 states, as well as Germany, England, Japan, Korea and Brazil.

The retired Sentinel High School history teacher also is a Lewis and Clark scholar and guide who served on the National Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Foundation Board.

The presentation will be the second Montana Conversations program the museum has presented this year. The first was about the real life of Calamity Jane.

“I try to get something for the men and something for the women each year, and if I find a program for the kids, I get that, too,” Miller explained.

(Contact Denise Hartse at localife@midrivers.com or 406-234-0450.)