Montana Jones

Montana n: A state of the northwest United States bordering on Canada. Admitted as the 41st state in 1889. The fourth largest state in the union, it includes vast prairies and numerous majestic mountain ranges.
Syn: Treasure State, Big Sky Country, Last Best Place.

Jones n: slang. An addiction or very deep craving.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Cowboys and Realtors and Montana style

This month Smithsonian magazine is featuring an essay about Montana. It touches on the Flathead valley, Montana, the west in general, economics, politics and grizzly bears. Get the print version if you can; it has a beautiful photo of Kalispell.

The author, Blaine Harden, may have given me a piece of the puzzle that is Montana style. I have been scratching my head at some oddities and contradictions that I see around here. The disconnect between the low quality of employment and the growth of the region. Our independent spirit intermingling with our connection to the national and world economies. According to the Smithsonian essay, to paraphrase, Montana style is a myth. Montanans and westerners in general have bought into the myth of the western ethos to the point that we have blinded ourselves to the realities of our own economies and lifestyles.

I still believe that Montana style influences economics and politics to a greater degree than is generally understood, but this essay goes a long way toward explaining some of the contradictions of Montana style.