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Beaverhead County Museum Announces New Exhibit On Indigenous People

Indigenous Peoples of Southwest Montana – An Archaeological History

A grand opening of a new exhibit at Beaverhead County Museum in Dillon, Indigenous Peoples of Southwest Montana – An Archaeological History, is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, June 24 and 25, 2022. The exhibit, two years in the making, was inspired by the book, Six Hundred Generations: An Archaeological History of Montana, by Carl M. Davis, Dillon native and former Regional Archaeologist for the U.S. Forest Service. To help tell the story, this exhibit uses artifacts from many eras of Indigenous Peoples that have been donated to the museum.

At the end of the last Ice Age 12,000 years ago, major changes in climate set the stage for the migration of Eurasian people into the western hemisphere. Visitors can learn how the major extinctions of mammoths, giant bison and other megafauna required people to adapt to the changing environment and plant and animal species. Exhibits cover an extensive time period, from a 13,000-year-old spear point found locally to tiny arrow points discovered at nearby buffalo jumps. Highlights include mammoth bones uncovered within Dillon’s city limits in 1906 along with one of the largest mammoth tusks to be exhibited in any museum. A beautiful atlatl (throwing spear) made for this exhibit is a “must see” item. Viewers will gain a new appreciation of the resilience, creativity and adaptability of people who lived and thrived in this area from their first arrival at the end of the Ice Age until they were displaced by Euro-Americans 100-150 years ago.

Ticketed events on June 24th begin with an afternoon tour of the Wheat Bison Jump. The evening reception offers an overview by the exhibit’s curator, Ron Loge, and a talk about the archaeology of Beaverhead County by Carl M. Davis. Saturday events include free access to the exhibit at the Depot Museum, atlatl skill talks and throwing demonstrations, flintknapping, bison hide processing, fire starting and other presentations. Davis’ talk on archaeology will be presented again. Additional ticketed tours to the Wheat Bison Jump will be offered on Saturday morning and afternoon. To assure transportation to the site, tickets should be purchased by June 15th. For tickets or more information, call the Beaverhead County Museum (406-683-5027).

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