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Missouri Breaks video premieres at the Heritage Center


March 27, 2002

A video showing the beauty of an area that is again the center of controversy premieres next week.

The H. Earl Clack Museum and Arlie Lane are sponsoring a showing of "The White Cliffs of the Missouri" next Wednesday on the third floor of the Heritage Center.

The video is compiled from a restored slide show of photos of the Upper Missouri Breaks taken by the late Emil DonTigny and his son Richard, with a script written by the late Harrison Lane, a history teacher at Northern Montana College, narrated by the late Bill Lisenby, an English teacher at Northern.

The material for the slide show was in serious disrepair, and the Clack Museum Board has had it restored and transformed into a video, which the museum is selling for $20, plus shipping and handling if needed, as a fund-rais


Elinor Clack, a board member and former curator of the museum, said the restoration went very well.

"I was very pleased with it," she said. "(The restorer) is an artist."

Emil DonTigny, who became recognized as an authority on the Upper Missouri Breaks, guided many people, including U.S. Geological Survey employees, moviemakers, members of the National Geographic Society, authors and television news anchor Chet Huntley down the river, as well as friends and family members. The slide show is a selection of the many photos he and his son took of the area over the years.

The Missouri Breaks have been back in the news since President Clinton proclaimed the area a national monument in January 2001. Landowners in the area, whose land is reserved to become part of the monument if they decide to sell or give it to the U.S. government, oppose the monument designation.

The area was a subject of controversy when DonTigny was taking some of his pictures. In the 1960s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed building a series of dams on the Missouri that would have flooded most of the Breaks, which were extensively described by Lewis and Clark in their journals of the Voyage of Discovery.

Over nearly a decade of work, DonTigny was instrumental in preventing the flooding of the area. He also helped start the effort that resulted in the declaration of the area as a Wild and Scenic River area in 1976, although he never lived to see it.

Emil DonTigny died in 1969 at the age of 67.

The time is perfect to release the video, Clack said, because of the continuing debate about the Breaks.

"There's certainly been so much controversy, people need to be aware of it," she said.

Clack and Antoinette "Toni" Hagener, another former curator of the Clack Museum, have been working on revising the displays at the museum while it was closed during the winter because of funding difficulties.

Clack said the displays are ready and the museum should be open once a complete staff of employees and volunteers is in place.

The premiere of the video will be at 7:30 p.m., followed by a discussion by a panel including Havre High School history teacher Jim Magera, Clack said. Coffee and cookies will be served. Visitors are asked to use the side door by the museum foyer.

An exhibit of art by Emil DonTigny and Harrison Lane will open April 3 in the art gallery adjoining the museum. The art exhibit will continue daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through April 13.

For more information, call the Heritage Center at 265-7258.


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