Eastern Montana History
As I was growing up outside of Sidney, Montana, something triggered my interest in my family history. Maybe it was the pictures on the wall at my grandparent’s house. Maybe it was the stories my relatives would tell of people they knew and grew up with or things that they accomplished as paying jobs. One of my grandparents helped build the Fort Peck dam and my dad helped plant trees nearby. Some of those relatives could even describe the dress they wore when a special event happened in their teenage years, including the material color and pattern.
Eventually, my curiosity about my family history grew to include Sidney and Montana history. Maybe it was the M-O-N-T-A-N-A song that I learned while in Elementary School. Maybe it was the trophy case at my high school, full of trophies depicting special events of the past. I wanted to know where my grandparents came from and why they came to Montana.
All these things made a lasting impression in my life, so I decided to write down some of the family and Montana history that I was told.
Lover of History to Member of the Board
Simply, I like learning about history – my family’s history, the history of the land and the area. I also believe it’s important to volunteer and be an active part of the community. So, when I was approached to fill a temporary Board position by a person on the Board of Directors for the MonDak Heritage Center in Sidney, my answer was immediately, “yes!” Just as I am recording the history of my family, the MonDak Heritage Center holds and preserves the history of the Sidney area.
Over the years, I had watched this museum grow and evolve and was impressed with the direction the Center was heading. This museum had changed from a place with an old-time main street exhibit with various shops from past years set up in the basement, along with static exhibits on the main level, to a cultural center with history and art exhibits that change several times a year, community meetings, exercise classes and various musical entertainment and free movie events.
Engage, Educate, and Inspire
Today, the MonDak Heritage Center is a non-profit organization guided by a mission to: “engage, educate and inspire our community by preserving and contributing to the area’s art, culture and heritage”. In addition to art exhibits and special events, the Center now offers art classes for children and adults, including pottery and other projects. My granddaughter and I have taken several art classes and enjoy them tremendously. It has been fun to see the variety of art classes that are taught and the various projects the artists complete. There are after- school art classes and out- of- town art classes too.
Volunteers Make Up the Fabric of Communities
It takes dedicated people who donate their time and energy to keep a worthwhile project strong and growing. The MonDak Heritage Center hosts several fundraisers a year, including my favorite, “Celebrating Chocolate.” Stockman Bank has been a sponsor of this event for the past 10 years and continues to be involved. Only with volunteers and community involvement from businesses, the MonDak Heritage Center look towards a strong future, as it continues to contribute to the art and culture of the Sidney area and preserve history for future generations.