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Montana: Treasure State
JOINED UNION: November 8, 1889
STATE BIRD: Western Meadowlark
STATE FLOWER: Bitterroot
MEANING OF STATE NAME: Based on Spanish word for "mountainous"
1992 POPULATION: 823,697
RANK FOR POPULATION: 44
LAND AREA: 145,556 square miles
RANK IN SIZE IN UNION: 4
ECONOMY: Mining, lumber, tourism, livestock, agriculture
HISTORY: Crow, Teton, and Plains Indians made Montana their home before the French explored the area in 1742. The U.S. acquired Montana as part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, after which Lewis and Clark explored this territory a few years later. Fur traders established forts here in the early 1800s and the state was the site of major fighting between Indians and U.S. troops between 1867 and 1877. The battle of the Little Big Horn in Montana was where General Custer had his "last stand." Mining of copper, silver, and zinc, among others, brought growth to the state. Today, Montana has become the home to a growing group of noted artists and writers who mingle with the ranchers and other Western folk who live here.
King Of The Prairie 1894
In May 1894, Congress outlawed the hunting of buffalo in Yellowstone Park. This was the first step by the United States government toward protecting an animal that earlier American settlers had tried to eliminate.
Before white people arrived, buffalo were abundant on the plains and prairies. Indian storytellers recall the days when a person could ride a pony in one direction all day and always be with one herd of buffalo.
The Indians saw the large animals as kindred spirits who provided them with meat to eat and warm hides for protection against the harsh winters.
In 1830, estimates place about 40 million buffalo on the plains. But the systematic killing of buffalo by railroad workers and the pointless slaughter of the animals for sport (often, their carcasses were just left on the plain to rot) almost destroyed the herds. By 1893, there were probably fewer than one thousand buffalo on the plains.
Since 1894, attempts have been made to increase the number of buffalo in America. Today there are about 3,000 buffalo in Yellowstone National Park and the animal, while not considered endangered, is no longer a major source of food for Americans.
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