By Elinor Clack
The Clack Museum and Arlie Lane invite everyone to attend the premier showing of the video, "The White Cliffs of the Missouri" on Wednesday on the third floor courtroom of the Heritage Center at 7:30 p.m. Afterward, a panel of speakers will discuss their feelings about the video and the river's needs. Also on this date there will be an exhibit of Harrison Lane's and Richard DonTigny's art both recognized artists from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the gallery adjoining the museum. Visitors are admonished to use the small door on the east side of the museum foyer there will be a sign. The art show will continue until April 13 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Havre Art Association is hanging the art and manning the gallery with other help during this period.
The year 1982 was a banner year for the Clack Museum. It was given a grant by the Montana Committee for the Humanities as a result of a meeting with Chairman Margaret Kingsland, who came to Havre to visit Toni Hagener, then chairwoman of the Montana Historical Society. Kingsland asked Elinor Clack if the museum had any unattainable needs. There were many. At the conclusion of the meeting, Kingsland suggested Clack write a grant proposal outlining the greatest needs and name a committee of scholars to serve as an advisory committee.
The scholars selected were Lou Hagener, then general chairman of basic curricula who used Wahkpa Chu'gn as an outdoor classroom; Harrison Lane of the American history department; Cliff Whittemore, chairman of audio-visual department; Mary Blew of the English department and also a member of the Montana Committee for the Humanities; and others. We felt there was a need for background material on the Nez Perce Indians to compliment Bob Scriver's diorama. Too, there was a need for a slide program to take the place of tours to the bison kill when the weather was inclement.
Earlier, the Montana Institute of the Arts had held its annual conference in Havre. This organization provided the leadership of Hagener and Clack to the museum. The conference focused on this area and at this time there was great tension regarding the safety of the Missouri River, which runs at our back door. A river trip led by Emil DonTigny was a fitting conference climax. Clack, as Havre's branch director, was invited to ride in DonTigny's boat. A heavenly experience, for his asides brightened her vision considerably.
A slide program on this area of the Missouri would help fulfill our role as an interpretive museum and would be the museum's gift to Havre. DonTigny was now dead, but we knew the slides were essential. The family agreed to make them available. Lane had been down the river with DonTigny and had led many college groups so he was the logical choice to write the script and select the slides. Bill Lisenby agreed to do the narration and select the background music.
Lane agreed to write the needed Nez Perce manuscript, "The Long Flight A History of the Nez Perce."
Left was the slide program on Wahkpa Chu'gn, and it proved to be the toughest challenge. As Gertrude Stein could have said, "A rock is a stone is a rock." We had a lot of pictures for casual use but not of the needed quality. Judge Emmett Stalcup advised we ask John Brumley, a working archaeologist who discovered Wahkpa Chu'gn as a 13-year-old, and had both extensive quality slides and knowledge. Brumley was in the field when contacted and offered to help next year. We asked for an extension.
The booklet was given to folk eager for more knowledge about the battle at Snake Creek south of Chinook and has been reprinted and is available in the museum shop. We made three prints of each slide series for classroom and club use, but kept the masters in our files. All have disappeared.
Lewis and Clark are important now. Hagener and Clack turned to Montana State University-Northern's library archives and there was a master. The library suggested using the expertise of Dean Hellinger of Prairie Productions to bring the slides into video format in top quality condition. This is what you will see. The video is on sale in the museum shop, but we hope to see you Wednesday.