By Alan Sorensen
LODGEPOLE Lodgepole Hall on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation has been placed in the National Register of Historic Places, Mark Baumler, State Historic Preservation Officer for the Montana Historical Society, announced.
The octagonal log dance hall in Lodgepole was built in 1936, two years after the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 made it legal and one year after a rectangular dance hall was built in Hays. The act of 1934 was a dramatic change in federal government policies toward Indians, according to information supplied by Baumler, from assimilation to self-determination.
Lodgepole Hall represents the 1930s' adaptation of the multisided dance halls built on reservations. The interior is described in the historical society's application as one large space with an 18-foot ceiling. The floor is marked for basketball and a raised stage is located in the rear wing. Bleachers overlook the dance floor in the front wing. Wooden stairs on either side of the stage lead into a kitchen in the partial basement. The kitchen has a wood cookstove.
The building is located in a small flat area surrounded by rolling hills. The only development in the immediate area is a one-story school behind the hall.
The walls of the traditional dance hall were constructed of square notched logs. They were covered with fiber board sometime in the 1960s.
Baumler said the government award the dance hall its federal registry on Feb. 24. Baumler said the state society studied the dance hall during the last year, went through all the steps of the review board, and forwarded the proposal to Washington, D.C. There, the keeper of the register made the final decision, he said.
Lodgepole is located among the foothills and valleys of the Little Rockies at the southern end of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, just northeast of Hays.