“USA 🇺🇸 ~Montana Happy Mother’s Day at the Bison Range and the 1890’s St. Ignatius Mission Church”

Today, on Mothers Day, we got an early start, so we could drive to the Bison Range; a wildlife reserve on the Indian Reservation in or near Moiese.

We arrived at the Bison Range Visitors Center, and paid our $20 per car…(just between you n me, I think our Jonah is so small, we should have only had to pay $10), but…..

In the heart of the Flathead Indian Reservation, you’ll find the CSKT Bison Range. This gorgeous, 18,500-acre wildlife conservation area is managed by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and is open to the public. It’s the perfect place for a day trip complete with a rich history, breathtaking Mission Mountain views and excellent wildlife photography opportunities.

Theodore Roosevelt established the National Bison Range in 1908, to provide “…for a permanent bison range for the herd of bison….”
Today, the range is a diverse ecosystem of grasslands: Douglas Fir and Ponderosa Pine Forests, riparian areas and ponds, all home to roughly 350–500 Bison, as well as Elk, Deer, Pronghorn, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Lions, Bears, and more than 200 species of birds.


⬆️ Duly noted 

We took the road to the right, since it would take us to the highest elevation, in hopes of seeing Big Horned Sheep, but no such luck.
The road to the left, is the lowest elevation and this is where we came out and where we saw the most wildlife. It makes sense, since it is still quite cold, up top.

Anywho, we drove on a so-so gravel road-to a terrible gravel road, for almost two hours. The views up at the top of the climb were spectacular, and we saw a few deer on the way.

Montana lives up to its name of “Big Sky Country,” quite well!

The National Bison Range was established in 1908 and is one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the United States.
It was created to serve as a refuge for the Bison, also known as a Buffalo.

The view, as we entered this range was amazing, with the wide-open plains and the wildflowers blooming all around us.
Three impressive mountain ranges surround the Flathead Valley: the Swan Range in the north, the Salish Mountains in the west and the Mission Mountains in the east.
These here, are the Mission Mountains. They are quite jagged in places and they remind me a little of the Tetons in Wyoming. But here, the “Red Sleep Mountain Drive” we were on, brought us to these impressive Mountains in the pictures.

The route we chose, took us through 20 miles of the National Bison Range.
I’ve seen wild Buffalo in many places over the years; South Dakota’s Badlands National Park, and Custer State Park, Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, Catalina Island in California, and of course Yellowstone National Park.

Fun Fact:

Even though the official address of Yellowstone National Park is the state of Wyoming, Yellowstone is actually in three states. The majority of Yellowstone (96%) is in Wyoming. A small section of the park; (3%) to the north and northwest, is in Montana.
And, a small section of the park (1%) is in the west of Idaho.

It never gets old seeing these big wild animals, and I can’t help but feel relief, every time, about how they made a comeback in our country, after almost becoming extinct; no thanks to man, back in pioneer history.


Interesting Read ⬇️

When Congress passed and President Donald J. Trump signed into law, the legislation that would restore the National Bison Range to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes, it marked a homecoming of sorts as the land, the operations and the bison were returned to tribal management.
Now, Native leaders throughout the state need one more thing returned, “Big Medicine.”

Big Medicine is the name given to a white Bison calf, born on the range in 1933. Not an albino, Big Medicine had a mostly white coat with a tuft of brown that sometimes appeared near his horns.
Many Indigenous cultures, including the Salish and Kootenai, regarded the birth as an omen of good fortune and renewed hope, and Big Medicine was kept alive on the range for 26 years; nearly triple the age of the average bull Bison.

Since his death in 1959, Big Medicine has been housed at the Montana State Historical Society in Helena. The display is right across from the archives on the second floor, and he remains one of the most popular attractions for Native and non-Natives alike.
However, the Montana Native American Caucus has supported the effort by the CSKT to bring Big Medicine home, back to where he lived, to be a part of a planned museum and interpretative center.

Finally, at the end of the two hours; like the last 20 minutes, we saw some Bison and also Prong Horn! It was awesome, and we left feeling happy and accomplished.

⬆️ Looks like a cloudy eye.. bummer, but he was healthy and fit, just the same

We were hoping to see some mothers with new baby Bison, but only saw the boys.
We counted about 40, in all. 

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Down the road from Moiese, is St. Ignatius. In this little town, there is the St. Ignatius Mission Church, established in 1854.

Now, if you know us, you also know we never pass up a chance to visit a Mission, when we get the chance. Daryl and I actually visited all 21 historical missions in California; from Capistrano, all the way up to San Francisco. What a blast we had!

St. Ignatius Mission  ⬇️

The St. Ignatius Mission Chirch was built in the early 1890’s near Montana’s first Catholic school in this town, founded in 1854 by Jesuit priests.
This Catholic Church is unique because its walls and ceilings have 58 original paintings by Brother Joseph Carignano on them. (Carignana served in the resident kitchen and had no training in arts)
Two of the most distinctive paintings depict the Salish Lord and Lord’s mother, in Native American form.

⬆️ The Mission Mountain Range is a beautiful backdrop of scenery behind the Mission Church. The church is located on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

The St. Ignatius Mission Church is noted for its original paintings from the early 1890s by Brother Joseph Carignano 

 

An adjacent log building was the original residence of the Ursuline Sisters who operated a school for several decades.
The spectacular setting and agricultural potential of the Mission Valley drew Jesuit priests here in 1854 after nearby locations didn’t work out.

St. Ignatius main message?
Ignatius declared: “The goal of our life is to live with God forever. God who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit…. Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to the deepening of God’s life in me.”


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Celebrating Mother’s Day ⬇️

So after we got back to The Whale, we only relaxed for a moment, when it was time to go get some chow.
Daryl picked a great restaurant; “The Shoe Lakeview Dining” which is only a hop, skip, and a jump away. The food was great, good service and the view was spectacular!

After dinner, we headed for the car wash, because the Bison Range road was messy, and we needed to clean Jonah up for her next trip to Glacier National Park; tomorrow and Tuesday.
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More about Polson ⬇️

Polson is located on the Flathead Indian Reservation at the south end of Flathead Lake. This charming lakeside community is the center for one of Montana’s most fertile farming areas and prime cherry growing region. The Flathead River that flows from Polson features whitewater rafting and Kerr Dam.

More…

The Salish-Kootenai Treaty of 1855
In what is now called Polson, leaders of the Salish and Kootenai tribes signed a treaty with the United States government that established the Flathead Indian Reservation. The treaty also set aside lands for non-Native settlers and opened the area up for the development of farms and ranches.

The creation of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in 1967
In response to years of oppression and forced assimilation policies, the Salish and Kootenai tribes united, to form the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, which remain a significant political and cultural force in the area to this day.

The Flathead Lake Monster sightings of 1889
There have been many sightings of a mysterious creature in Flathead Lake over the years, but the most famous occurred in 1889 when dozens of people claimed to have seen a “gigantic serpent” swimming in the water. The creature has never been definitively identified or explained.

The Polson Prisoner of War camp during World War II
From 1944 to 1946, a prisoner of war camp was located just outside of Polson, housing Italian and German prisoners captured during World War II. Many of the prisoners worked on local farms and helped to boost the local economy during the war.

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Not long after arriving in Polson ⬇️

I just love this town!
I just love having a car again, to go to town!

We went to a movie and then took a drive around the area.



⬆️ ⬇️Great view of Flathead Lake, from the top of the cemetery; just outside of town 


We have many more things to do, whilst in Polson. We must visit the Kerr Dam, and White Water Rafting; we are going to do that, too. There are also many museums to visit.
Finally, we are looking for a boat trip to go out to Wild Horse Island and hike around to photograph the wildlife that live there; yes, including wild horses.
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P.S.

Since I mentioned it, if interested in the 21 Spanish Missions in California’s, as well as the Spanish Missions of San Antonio, Texas, here are the links to my other website. No writing in this one, other than names of places.

California:

https://picsbypen.smugmug.com/Places/North-AmericaLife/United-StatesLife/CaliforniaLife/21-Spanish-Missions

Texas: (yes, including The Alamo)

https://picsbypen.smugmug.com/Places/North-AmericaLife/United-StatesLife/TexasLife/San-Antonio

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Hello and Welcome to our Travel Blog Website, We enjoy writing about our experiences and taking photos of our adventuring along the way. Our names are: Daryl and Pen, but Daryl calls me “Bunny.” We met, quite randomly, whilst both… Read More