Year of Award
Thesis - Campus Access Only
Master of Arts (MA)
Department or School/College
Department of History
Jeffrey Gritzner, Jeffrey Wiltse
Great Northern Railway, Louis W. Hill, National Parks, North Fork, Conservation, George Bird Grinnell, Glacier National Park, Thomas H. Carter, Homesteaders
University of Montana
This project examines the creation of Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana in 1910, and argues that the effort to create Glacier National Park included a class struggle between a small group of elite, upper-class proponents of the park (including George Bird Grinnell, Louis Hill, and the merchants of Kalispell, MT) and lower-class, local citizens who relied on the resources of the West Glacier area for subsistence. Traditionally, the historiography of the American conservation movement and national parks presents the creation of Glacier and other preserved areas in a very triumphant tone. Histories of national parks often read as exultant tales, where enlightened conservationists and prescient administrators saved pristine landscapes of sublime beauty from misuse and destruction at the hands of greedy exploiters. However, these types of histories present an incomplete narrative concerning the creation of Glacier and other national parks. While Glacier was, and continues to be, a picturesque area of the country, the lands that now exist as Glacier National Park were never truly pristine or uninhabited. Native Americans have lived, hunted, and enjoyed this area of present-day Montana for thousands of years. Beginning in the late 19th century, white settlers and homesteaders began moving into the Glacier area, in search of viable farmland and attracted by the vast natural resources available in the region. Both the Blackfeet Indians, who lived in the eastern areas of the present-day park, and white settlers in the western lands of Glacier, relied on the bountiful timber, water, and game for survival. The effort to create Glacier National Park in 1910, an endeavor led by a small group of wealthy, Eastern conservationists, challenged and eventually ended the subsistence practices of these local residents. The history of the creation of Glacier National Park provides an opportunity to examine the issue of class conflict as it relates to the conservation movement and offers a valuable historical context for evaluating modern public lands debates.
Bailey, Shawn Patrick, "Colonization of the Crown: Hunting, Class, and the Creation of Glacier National Park, 1885-1915" (2009). Graduate Student Theses, Dissertations, & Professional Papers. 208.
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© Copyright 2009 Shawn Patrick Bailey