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Missoulian editorial: The art of the huckleberry

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Few colors look as lovely as huckleberry purple, a shade seen often in the vibrant drawings of the late Missoula artist Nancy Erickson. Her family has gathered her lifetime’s accumulation of sketches, journals and practice efforts for sale this Saturday — with all proceeds donated to the Missoula Art Museum and the Montana Museum of Arts and Culture. The actual bucket of huckleberries goes to the Pattee Canyon Ladies Salon, the group Erickson founded in 1989 in honor of their fellowship and dedication to making the world a more wonderful place through art.

Few jobs are as thankless as substitute teaching (we can all look in the mirror and remember the reception those brave souls got from us, way back when). So it’s heartening to see Missoula County Public Schools offer a 16% raise in hourly pay to those willing to step in at a morning’s notice and keep our classrooms functioning. Nevertheless, it still feels like chokecherries that the bump only moves from $12.50 an hour to $14.50. That’s a buck and a half less than what burger joints are offering to pay the teenagers in those classrooms. We’re getting a lot of impassioned letters to the editor about tax increases and inflation and the cost of living in Missoula. Given the City’s request for an 11.59% tax increase next year, we expect the complaints to grow even louder. We don’t blame the leaders we’ve elected to chew on these numbers, but we sure know what that mouthful tastes like.

We’ve eaten dried chokecherry patties at Indian Education for All workshops, and they’re actually both nutritious and tasty when made the right way. Just goes to show that even something harsh can be helpful, when viewed from another perspective. That’s the foundation of Montana’s nation-leading innovation incorporating its Indigenous community knowledge into its public education system. So we offer an unpicked hillside of huckleberries to Jordann Lankford, the Aaniih and Anishinaabe teacher at Great Falls Public Schools who received the 2022 Montana History Teacher of the Year award for her work in Indian Education for All. Lankford will receive $1,000 honorarium and a core archive of American history books and educational materials. She will also become one of 53 finalists for the 2022 National History Teacher of the Year award, the winner of which will be announced in October. As Lankford put it, “Indian Education for All is not just for Native students. It’s for everyone who is in love with the true history of our country.”

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Creatively arranged huckleberries to the dealmakers who crafted a way to keep 20 affordable apartments stable with a partnership between BlueLine Property Management and the City of Missoula.

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