The United States of America wasn’t always states and wasn’t always united. Many of our states were once on their own, or belonged to Mexico, or belonged to the Crown. Before California was a state, California was a Republic, its own country so to speak. As I get ready to start the 30-day countdown for my tour of the big sky country, I want to explore with you all the history of Montana.
The Original People of Montana
Native Americans, also known as the Indigenous peoples of America, are the original people of the now state of Montana. Montana.gov states that the first inhabitants of Montana were parts of the:
“Crows in the south central region, the Cheyenne in the southeastern part of the state, the Blackfeet, Assiniboine, and Gros Ventres in the central and north-central areas, and the Kootenai and Salish in the western sector. The Pend d’Oreille were found around Flathead Lake, and the Kalispel occupied the western mountains.”
It wasn’t until the 1800’s that colonizers/white explorers made their way to Montana. Like most of this country’s history, with colonization came alcohol, disease, and a new way of living: greed, religion, and war. Anytime there is magic in the waters, soil, and mountains of any land, it seems the United States is all over it (Montana, Puerto Rico, and Haiti to name a few).
In 1803, the United States acquired Montana as a territory, and then in 1889, Montana became a state. But it wasn’t without a fight. When white explorers first got to Montana, the original people fought them off so well, that it took 60 years for another white explorer to try it.
Montana, the Treasure State
Puerto Rico is Spanish language; Puerto means port, and Rico means rich. There were wars in Puerto Rico because of the gold found in the rivers. The mountains of Haiti have iridium and that’s why the U.S. military is posted up all around the mountains where it can be found. And like both of these territories/countries, Montana’s treasure was discovered near the continental divide. Montana is the 7th largest gold-producing state and why it’s known as the treasure state.
Cities/towns were established simply to mine gold; Bannack was one of those cities. Many say this is where Montana became known as the wild west. Discovering Montana says:
“The arrival of miners looking for gold led to the settlement of Bannack, which became the first territorial capital of Montana on May 26, 1864. Bannack quickly became notorious for being a wild mining town plagued with robbery, gun violence, and murder.
More than 2,000 people had settled there within a year, including famous figures of the Old West, such as Sheriff Henry Plummer. While he was elected as sheriff to protect innocent miners from being robbed, it was later suspected that he secretly led one of the largest gangs of thieves in the town.”
Industry and Cultural Shifts in Montana
The old west vs. the new west. From native/indigenous beginnings to what many are now calling the “new west”; Montana has seen changes. It started with mining, then agriculture, then ranching, and now tech and cannabis; the state has seen waves of change.
Many see Montana as cowboys and ranchers, but with cannabis and tech, all kinds of businesses and people from other parts of the country are making their way to Montana. Governing reports the following: “The tech sector in the state generated $2.9 billion in revenues in 2020, $400 million more than the previous year, per data from the Bureau of Business and Economic Research”.
In an article by Montana Public Radio published in 2021, the headline reads: “Montana tech industry has more jobs than people who can work them”. But in 2022, the Center Square reported that Montana has seen growth in population every year, for the last few. From 2021 to 2022, about 20,000 people became residents of Montana.
As for cannabis in Montana’s first year of legalization, the state generated $202, 947,328 (2022). In this same year, the cannabis industry created over 5,000 jobs. NBC Montana provided the following in an article published last month:
“The pandemic brought several changes to everyday life, one of those being the great migration. New data ranks Montana as 13th for domestic migration in 2022.”
Fat Nugs Under Big Skies, the Montana Cannabis Tour with the Traveling Cannabis Writer
Recently I wrote a piece for Honeysuckle Magazine, where I discussed Montana’s road to legalization. In 2004, Montana became one of the 11 states at the time that legalized medical cannabis. Their journey to stay there was a challenging one.
In 2011, Montana faced an entire overhaul of their medical cannabis program through SB 423, a repeal bill:
- Cultivators could not assist more than three patients, and could not receive any compensation from them.
- The state medical board was required to audit any doctor who recommended medical marijuana for more than 25 patients a year.
- Testing medical marijuana for safety and potency was illegal.
- Law enforcement officers could enter any provider’s location, even in private homes, to conduct a warrantless search.
By August 2016, about 93% of medical cannabis patients in Montana lost their access to a medical cannabis provider. Montana residents fought back. Fast forward to January 1, 2021: adult-use cannabis is legal! And this is why I’m headed to Montana for the Fat Nugs Under Big Skies Tour.
The Montana Cannabis Tour kicks off on 4/20 in Missoula, MT. First stop, the 4th Annual 420 Block Party + Dispensary Tour of Missoula by Montana’s HempFest, sponsored by Sinful Beverages.
The full Fat Nugs Under Big Skies tour will be in the June issue of Fat Nugs Magazine, with some sneak peeks along the way via social media. Stay in the know by connecting with us on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn: @Vee_travelingvegcannawriter and @fatnugsmagazine.
Also, stay tuned for audio coverage about the tour on Your Highness Podcast, Where in the World is Vee travel segment narrated by Dom, of Write the Vision.
Follow Veronica on social media: #travelingcannabiswriter
Veronica Castillo is known as the Traveling Cannabis Writer. Her body of work includes educational and informative insights on cannabis and various plant medicines, and she travels the country to provide insight on cannabis friendly travel. She is a collaborator, connector, content creator, and traveler that specialized in bringing to light the hidden gems in the plant space. Follow her journey: #travelingcannabiswriter.