BILLINGS, Mont. - The Extreme History Project, based in Livingston, was on location this past week for filming and recording of oral histories for their Ft. Parker Oral History Project. The interviews, given by several elder members of the Crow tribe, detail the early reservation period during the 1868 to 1884 time frames and seek to preserve the wealth of information available from members of the community.
Filming took place at the Little Big Horn College, Crow Agency Montana, and in private residences where Marvin Stewart, Grant Bulltail, Mardell Plainfeather, Stan Stevens, and Walter Pease, all descendants of the early Indian agencies, recounted their own family history. The interviews were conducted by Marsha Fulton and Crystal Alegria of the Extreme History Project and were filmed and recorded by Adam Sings in the Timber of Sings in the Timber Photography.
The project, funded by The Montana Department of Transportation, and in partnership with Project Archaeology, will supply transcriptions as well as DVD’s of interviews to several institutions throughout Montana and be made available to the public. They will also become a part of the digital archive which The Extreme History Project is creating on their website.
“We were so fortunate to be able to connect with some of the descendants of people associated with both the first and second agencies,” states Marsha Fulton, co-director of the Extreme History Project.
“They very generously gave us their time and stories that have been passed down through their families. We learned so much more about these people and this time period which will fill in the history we have previously uncovered from documents and letters,” continued Fulton.
The first two Crow agencies, Fort Parker, located just outside of Livingston (a.k.a. the Mission Agency) and the second agency near Absarokee, served as the two initial locations for the tribe prior to the final move to their current location in southeast Montana near Billings. Fort Parker, the very first Crow Indian agency, was established by the Laramie Treaty of 1868. The Crow lost millions of acres of territory with the establishment of each of these agencies.
Crystal Alegria, co-director of the Extreme History Project explained, “These stories have much to tell us about the Indian perspective of this period which has long been un-documented. We believe that bringing this story to light can have real value in bringing communities together here in Montana, and across the country.”
The Extreme History Project is a public history organization which seeks ways of using history to build bridges between communities. The current oral history project will bring the surviving historical stories from both Native and non-Native community members in order to honor both sides of a conflicting time in U.S. history.
Alegria also noted that, “We feel it is so important for the general public to have easy and ready access to this information for research, opportunities and education.”
The Extreme History Project has been studying the history surrounding the site at Fort Parker in preparation for the oral history project, their book, documentary and community education programs. The organization strives to make history relevant for the community while finding new and innovative ways to experience the events that shaped the present.
For more information on The Extreme History Project, visit http://extremehistory.wordpress.com/
Grant Bulltail recounts his family history during The Extreme History Project interview. PHOTO BY Adam Sings in the Timber / COURTESY The Extreme History Project