From its first people to the Montana men and women who have fought and are fighting today in faraway places, military conflict and resistance to it have been a major part of the Montana story.
The Montana Historical Society's 38th annual Montana History Conference Thursday through Saturday in Missoula will deal with a wide variety of topics as it presents "No Ordinary Time: War, Resistance, and the Montana Experience."
The role of warfare in traditional Native culture, the stories of Montanans who have faced battle, the impact foreign wars have had on the home front, and the struggles of those who resisted armed conflict are topics of the three-day conference.
The conference is designed for everyone from history buffs to professional historians, and includes workshops, tours, major speakers, banquets and credits for teachers.
"We have partnered with many organizations in the community, and this promises to be one of the most interesting, informative and enlightening conferences we have had," Society outreach and interpretation program manager Kirby Lambert said.
The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula and the University of Montana - including the President's Office, the President's Lecture Series, and the Montana Museum of Art and Culture - are teaming with the society in hosting the event.
The opening keynote address Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the DoubleTree Missoula-Edgewater will be "Montana, Lincoln, and the Civil War" by Richard Etulain, who is considered the premier expert on the Civil War and its effect on the West. This session is free and open to the public.
Other sessions include "Rethinking Warfare in traditional American Indian Societies," "Success and Failure on the Military Frontier," "Rather Than War," "Serving Splendidly," "Minorities in the Military" and many more.
On Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. there will be an exhibit reception for "War Torn: The Art of Ben Steele" at the Montana Museum of Art and Culture on campus. Steele will be at the reception and is a survivor of World War II's infamous Bataan Death March in the Philippines.
Steele created a vast aesthetic and historical record to pay tribute to those who did not survive that offers a message of peace. Light hors d'oeuvres will be served and period music will reflect the exhibit.
After the reception at 8 p.m. in the University Theatre, there will be a keynote address by Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor of History Emeritus John Dower as part of the UM President's Lecture Series. Dower will present "The Culture of War: Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, 9/11, Iraq."
Dower, who is a Pulitzer Prize and Mellon Prize winner, and was honored with the National Book Award, is considered the foremost historian of WWII in the Pacific and will sign copies of his books after the lecture. The lecture is free and open to the public.
On Saturday, Fort Missoula will host a plenary session, "Enemy Aliens," at the Post Headquarters Courtroom at the fort. UM professor Carol Van Valkenburg, author of "An Alien Place: The Fort Missoula, Montana, Detention Camp 1941-1944," will talk about the detention of Japanese and Italian nationals at the fort.
Then Priscilla Wegars, volunteer curator for the Asian American Comparative Collection at the University of Idaho-Moscow, will talk about Japanese internee road workers at the Kooskia Internment Camp. Bob Brown, director of the Fort Missoula museum, will moderate a question and answer session on the museum's ongoing interpretive efforts. A public dedication of the newly completed courtroom will follow at 1 p.m.
This year's guided tours will be of Fort Missoula, Mullan Road/Council Grove bus tour, and the A.J.Gibson Walking Tour of Missoula.
Online registration is available at mhs.mt.gov/museum/historyconference2011.asp, or contact Lambert at 406-444-4741 or email email@example.com with questions or for more information.
Up to 22 Office of Public Instruction teacher renewal units are available for conference attendees.
The Montana Preservation Alliance will host its Preservation Excellence Awards Ceremony Wednesday at the Florence Hotel in conjunction with the history conference.