Montana!


A friend of mine once told me a person doesn’t really qualify as a Montanan until they’ve got twenty winters under their belt. He said there was a fifty percent reduction if those winters were spent in what we call “West Dakota” or “The Flats”. I’ve traveled though that area twice and I’d have to say I agree with him. I’ve considered petitioning for a reduction for myself since we live off-grid on the side of a mountain. I haven’t because I doubt that would impress a man who lives off-grid in a seven by seven foot shack. People up here are a tough bunch. My favorite bartender here spent her first two winters in a wall tent. It doesn’t take long for a person to learn to tell the difference between a real Montanan and someone who just has a summer place. A real Montanan will look you in the eye and not rush anything while you talk with them. They don’t use wishy-washy phrases like “I believe” or “I think” or “I hope”. This is a land of absolutes. Hoping doesn’t save the life of a stuck calf at 3:00AM on a subzero February morning. A real Montanan doesn’t “think” a tree will fall in a direction that won’t kill those men sawing around him; he knows. A real Montana doesn’t “believe” the elk will be bedding down during a blizzard, he knows because he’s spent the time to learn the ways of this country, and this country won’t accept excuses.

I have lived here in Montana for five years. I wasn’t lucky enough to have been born here but at least I was lucky enough to have been born in the Rocky Mountains. I came from what I thought of as the sparsely populated corner of Colorado. I didn’t really understand what sparsely populated meant until I got here. There are places here that a person looking hard will get eyestrain before they find any people.

“The Last Best Place” is a phrase often used to describe this state. Some people will add “to Hide” to that also. We have a reputation for having “unusual” people here. I never met Ted Kaczynski or “Uncle Teddy” as he’s called up here, but I know people who have. The same goes for the Trochmanns who founded The Militia of Montana. I never met Elizabeth Clare Prophet, or any of The Freemen but I understand how all these people came to call Montana home.

Ever since people formed clans and tribes there have always been those of us who haven’t belonged. Until recently this wasn’t problem. We would just strike out for “parts unknown” maybe after flipping a bird in the direction we left behind. The places beyond the edge of the maps were where we couldn’t be found. We embodied the wilderness we called home and it shaped us at least as much as we shaped it.

There are no places left for a person to disappear to in this modern world. I fanaticize about a day that private colony ships can leave for astral bodies but I doubt I will live to see it. Those of us stuck here have to make do the best we can. We are, generally speaking, peaceful people who just want to be left alone. If given the option we will relocate to find what we seek before attempting to force our views on others. This just makes sense because having others views forced on us is what we are trying to escape.

Montana is one of the few States left in this union that still has a remnant of the freedom to be different this country was founded on. Our politics and laws reflect this sense of freedom; we have waged more state sovereignty battles than any other state. We have drafted a secession bill, twice, we said “hell no” to the national I.D. plan, we were the first state to declared we could make any firearms we want no matter what the federal government thought, we were the only state to abolish speed limits, anybody can conceal carry without a permit in over ninety nine percent of the state, we told the feds we wouldn’t enforce any laws contrary to our medical marijuana law, our open contain law is a zero point/fifty dollar fine that can be paid on the side of the road while you’re still holding your beer as long as you aren’t drunk, every citizen in this state is issued a de-facto license to have guns within the federal gun free school zones outside of schools, and I know there are even more pro-freedom laws that I’m forgetting.

I like to envision the population of this country like the wine in a brandy distiller’s equipment: the more volatile elements are released as the federal government turns up the heat and we all collect here where it’s cooler. Left behind is an off-flavored inert residue in the rest of the country, and a intoxicating but dangerous mixture here. With the growing number of Rights violating laws being passed at the federal level I expect the exodus of freedom seeking individuals from the other states to continue here for some time. I expect in the near future we will see a show down with the federal government. It is my dearest wish that this is a bloodless revolution that leads to the sovereign country of Montana being formed. However, I also know how dangerous a cornered animal can be and that’s basically what us here in Montana have become.

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