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Darcy Anne @Dragonfly_Darcy
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It's #montana history lesson time! This is gonna be quite the thread so pull up a chair and have a sit down.

It's time to talk about the history of the KKK in Montana. This is a piece of the cultural puzzle that is Montana.
The re-vamped KKK came to Montana in 1921 to recruit white, American-born, protestant male Montanan. More than 5100 Montanans joined the Klan during the 20's. It started in Harlowtown in 1921, and established headquarters in Livingston in 1923.
The KKK published a newspaper in Belgrade called “The Montana Klansmen”. Klans members were welcomed in 46 communities, having chapters in all those places, including Bozeman. In MT they presented themselves pretty benignly.
The tenets of the Klan in MT:
~Tenets of the Christian Religion
~Upholding the Constitution of the United States
~the Sovereignty of our states rights
~The separation of Church and state
~Religious Liberty
~Freedom of Speech and press
~Compulsory Education in Free public schools
(continued list)
~Protection of our Pure Womanhood.
~White supremacy
~Limitation of foreign immigration
~Closer relationship between capital and American labor
~Just laws and liberty
This list strikes me as describing almost all of the white, Christian, Republican, MT-born Montanans of today, particularly the ones that brag that they're 5th generation Montanan. It makes total sense now.

THIS is their legacy. These were their grandparents.
In the summer of 1926, the Bozeman newspaper published an ad to inviting the local community to the hot springs to “bring your lunch basket and your family and friends”. Meanwhile, the local chapters of the KKK were making donations with messages of non-violence.
But this list wasn't all they stood for, it just looked good on paper. It was attractive. In addition to the basic tenet of white supremacy, the KKK fought to suppress Catholic schools, and fought to eliminate Jews, native Americans, and all POC from public life completely.
They also wanted restrictive immigration to Montana, they only wanted white Protestants to come here. Only white, protestant males allowed membership. POC, Natives, Jews, and Catholics need not apply.
They burned crosses and sent written and verbal threats to people to force their white supremacy and anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic and anti-Native agenda. Once they burned the home of a black man in SE MT who was wrongfully accused of theft.
This kind of influence in a state with so little population explains a lot about where we came from, why we have the battles we do here between race & religion, liberal v. conservative, why it's such a hostile atmosphere toward out of state'ers, ppl who don't toe the party line.
So 5100 people out of 543,000 MT residents officially joined the KKK at that time. And that 5100 included only men. White men. Protestant white men, both lowly farmers and influential businessmen and politicians.
They were involved in communities, ruled the communities, were majors, police, state legislators (actually, some state legislators probably still are), gave massive amounts of money to local charities & public schools. They presented themselves as the upholders of "family values"
Now comes the fun part of the story, from two very different parts of the state:

Roundup vs Butte, a Story of Contrasts.
In Roundup c. 1923, there was a huge KKK meeting. Covered by the papers, advertised in the churches. There was no recorded opposition to the Klan in central Montana's rural communities. The KKK was embraced in these towns.
The Lewistown paper reported that in Roundup, several thousand people attended a ceremony where 300 people were inducted as new KKK members as they burned a cross in town.
But in Butte, not so much. The Butte sheriff said the Klan would be “shot down like wolves” if he saw them. In Butte, the Klan operated in complete secrecy, underground. They referred to themselves as “the Butte Men’s Literary Club” in public. They were forced into hiding.
Butte was like, hell no! And the local KKK chapter had trouble finding places to meet, EVERYONE turned them down. Labor unions renounced them. Businesses refused to serve them.

he Klan disbanded there without gaining a foothold.
Central MT was all white and protestant. Mostly farmers. Butte was the most ethically and racially diverse population in the state, possibly in the entire west with the exception of San Francisco in the 1920s and mostly Catholic.
Butte residents and leaders stood up to the KKK and made them afraid to be public with their hate. The KKK in Butte died off pretty quickly.

Many other MT towns embraced them they became the leaders of our great state. The upholders of "Montana family values".

Sound familiar?
This wasn't that long ago, folks. The 1920s was barely 100 years ago. Look at our state now, look at which areas embrace the Nazis and militias. Look how our white leaders tout "MT family values". Look how tribalistic white MT's are, hostile to "outsider liberals".
Look at how all the crazy Christofascists migrate here. Church Baldwin, anyone? There's a reason for that. We have a strong cultural history of white supremacy, from the time they drove out the Native Montanans. Even the KKK wanted a piece of MT and got a foothold here.
I came across notes from a history lecture at MSU 2 years ago and thought I'd share. Keep in mind when you see all the buzzwords "MT values, family values, Native-born (ha! white people), 5th generation MT'an" who said these first and why.
This was supposed to say Chuck Baldwin, oops....
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