Bozeman Montana
  Center News

Winter 2009  

Hello and Happy Holidays,

From all of us at the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, The University of Montana

Julius Seyler and the Blackfeet
Provided by William Farr

After more than a decade of research and writing, William E. Farr, Associate Director of the O’Connor Center published his book this October with the University of Oklahoma Press. Titled Julius Seyler and the Blackfeet. An Impressionist at Glacier National Park, this effort provides the first biographical portrait of Seyler, documents his special relationship to the "Glacier Park Indians," and, with over 100 images, many in color, illustrates Seyler's magnificent impressionistic art of the Glacier National Park area and the Blackfeet.

When Julius Seyler stepped down from the Great Northern train onto the depot platform at Glacier Park Station, Montana, in the summer of 1913, he was a successful and accomplished artist still struggling to break free from the grip of the late impressionist painters like Cezanne, Manet, and Vincent Van Gogh.

Born in Munich in 1873, Seyler began his art studies at the prestigious Munich Academy of Fine Arts in 1892. Seyler apprenticed himself to a variety of teachers and styles before striking out in 1906 to follow his own, more independent impulses that emphasized animals and people in local landscapes. By 1909, Seyler was in Paris, painting, studying, measuring his rural impressionist leanings against the work of the then popular French realist landscape painters. Restless and loving to travel, he moved on, looking for new inspiration, first on the coasts of Flanders and Brittany, then in Norway, fixing in paint and turpentine, seascapes, panoramas, and horizontal landscapes full of wind and turbulence—powerful places where the elements overwhelmed the few people and animals they contained. It was as if Seyler had already anticipated what he would later encounter in Northern Montana.

Perhaps providence was in play. As early as September 1904, Seyler, then 31, was writing to a young Norwegian-American art student, Helga Boeckmann, in St. Paul, Minn., whom he had met while she was studying in Munich. Six years later, in July 1910, they married in St. Paul before returning to Europe and Munich where they were to reside as they pursued their painting careers.

In 1913, after a year of creative activity in Norway and the Lofoten Islands, Seyler and Helga returned to St. Paul for the wedding of Helga’s brother to Rachel Hill, daughter of James J. Hill, the railroad magnate who built the Great Northern Railway. The "Empire Builder" had been succeeded by his son—Rachel’s brother—Louis W. Hill. Hill, himself a landscape painter, quickly appreciated the art of his new shirt-tail relative and his successful European career and hoped to harness this unusual find to his latest project, the promotion of Montana’s newly created Glacier National Park. To that end, Hill enticed the adventuresome Seyler to visit this majestic and powerful landscape and to see at the same time the Blackfeet Indians whose reservation lay just outside the Park boundaries.

Touted by the younger Hill and the Great Northern as the "Switzerland of America," Glacier Park became the focus of an ingenious railroad promotional campaign called "See America First." Hill hoped to entice wealthy eastern tourists, who had previously traveled to Europe, to travel to Glacier Park, adjacent to the tracks of his railroad. There Americans were to be given a close-up look at "America’s Alps" and an opportunity to meet with some of the "Vanishing Americans," the Blackfeet Indians, in the unspoiled wilderness of the new Park.

Hill understood the persuasiveness of visual images, whether photography or fine art, even late impressionism, and hoped to add Julius Seyler to his stable of "Sagebrush Rembrandts," painters who had already been employed to create a sort of advertising art. Art, as Hill so accurately put it, would "sell the West to prospective travelers."

Seyler, however, was different. While other artists of the West depicted the scenic grandeur in decidedly realistic terms, Seyler’s approach, while still readable, was not as literal or visually accurate. Instead he painted in the late-impressionistic manner, fragmenting and dissolving what he saw into a kaleidoscope of brush strokes, planes, splotches, smears, dabbles, and spots. Often he came close to sacrificing reality to impression. This was not advertising art and it did not resonate with those who expected the realism of a Frederic Remington or Charles M. Russell.

On the other hand, Seyler had to abandon the rich, if clichéd, conventions of European impressionism, adjusting his color and palette to the clear light of the Northern Plains. Likewise, his interest in depicting the Blackfeet and their buffalo-hunting past required a more narrative approach than the European code recognized. It was not an easy transition, for while his artistic instincts led in the direction of a more abstract approach, his need to explain to a European audience led in the opposite direction. From this tension emerged an eloquent, distinctive style that is refreshingly innovative and one that sparked a welter of new "impressions."

Julius Seyler spent two idyllic summers in Glacier Park and on the Blackfeet Reservation. Experiences abounded, including Seyler’s adoption into the tribe, the gift of a name—"Boss Ribs"—by Jack Big Moon, and his participation in the Sun Dance encampment in July of 1914. Determined to be accurate, Seyler relied again and again on Blackfeet informants. They, in turn, used him to tell their stories in paint as to who they were and what they had done; what was the signature shape of the tail of fast-running buffalo, how was a coup-stick held, a tepee pitched or painted?

When World War I broke out in September of 1914, the idyll was over. It was time to go home. The magic of the mountains no longer worked. Although Seyler left Montana, he was unable to return to Germany because of the British blockage of the Atlantic. Instead he and Helga withdrew to his father’s-in-law farm at Balsam Lake, Wisconsin, to endure a long seven-year exile as an apprentice farmer. There was no time nor inclination to paint.

Eventually, in 1921, Seyler returned to Europe where he renewed his career in the difficult post-war years with great critical success. He continued to work over his American portfolio of sketches and drawings of Glacier National Park and the Blackfeet, yet these remained essentially unknown in the United States and the American West. Seyler never returned to the American West or visited the Blackfeet again. Some of what he had painted of Glacier Park and the Blackfeet was lost or destroyed during the Allied bombing of Munich during World War II. Particularly in America, Seyler’s impressionistic art fell into obscurity. This is unfortunate, for much of his work survived in Europe and now this book provides us with a legacy of Montana images like no other. The Blackfeet, both then and now, have in Julius Seyler an impressionist painter who captures them moving with grace through their romantic past under the spacious arc of grass and sky.

upcoming events

On Jan. 22 in Helena, Mont., Center Director Larry Swanson will give the keynote luncheon address at the 2010 Economic Growth and Social Justice Conference organized and hosted by the Helena Education Foundation. Swanson will discuss the importance of education in the emerging economy and the need for greater "intentionality" by local leaders in both visualizing future economic potential and pursuing it through better education programming.

Between Feb. 1 and 3 in northern Illinois, Swanson will participate as a member of an international evaluation team reviewing progress by Northern Illinois University and nearby community colleges in planning new programs aimed at area workforce education and training. The Northern Illinois colleges and universities are participating in the PURE program of the International PASCAL Observatory based in Glasgow, Scotland. PURE, which stands for PASCAL University Regional Engagement, is a program involving work by PASCAL in 20 regions around the world. Other members of PASCAL's Northern Illinois evaluation team include Dr. Hans Schuetze, fellow and former director of the Centre for Policy Studies in Higher Education at the University of British Columbia and Dr. Jose Gines Mora Ruiz of the Institute for Education at the University of London who is former director of the Centre for the Study of Higher Education Management at Valencia University of Technology in Spain.

On Feb. 18, in Missoula, Mont., Prof. Joseph P. Gone of the Dept. of Psychology and American Culture at the University of Michigan will present the Center's 13th Annual Native American Lecture celebrating Charter Day. His presentation examines and evaluates received notions of historical trauma and concludes that this discourse reproduces the very problems that its proponents intended it to overcome. Alternative possibilities for representing the relationship between colonization history and contemporary distress within Native American communities will be explored.

Prof. Gone is an enrolled Gros Ventre who grew up in Kalispell and was educated at Harvard College (1992) and the University of Illinois (Ph.D. 2001).  He has dealt extensively with mental health, culture and Indian communication across North America.

The event will be held in Liberal Arts Bldg., Room 11 at 7:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

In early March in Colorado, Swanson will lead a PASCAL evaluation team examining workforce education and training programs in Colorado. The State of Colorado and the University of Colorado in Boulder are hosting the team which will include Swanson, Hans Schuetze, and Dr. Pat Davies of the School of Education at the University of Sheffield in England.

On April 23-24 in Kalispell, Mont. the Center, along with Flathead Valley Community College, utilizing a grant from Glacier National Park, will host an historical conference celebrating Glacier National Park's first 100 years. The 2-day conference will feature a variety of historical topics from how Glacier Park has been represented in artistic imagination to one of the Park's most important past ambassadors, the Blackfeet leader John Two Guns White. The conference is but one of many efforts commemorating the creation of America's 10th National Park and its cultural legacy.

recent quotes from the region 
as provided by Headwaters News

"The overarching issue is that alternative energy is slow to take off here because Idaho has some of the cheapest energy costs in the country with hydroelectric power."

Dr. John Gardner, professor of mechanical engineering at
Boise State, about the pace of development of
renewable energy in Idaho.

- Boise Weekly

"Colorado really is a desert. Water is a precious resource here."

Andrew Kayner, one of a dozen or so Coloradans seeking
a permit under a new law in that state that now
allows the capture of rainwater.
- Denver Post

"Thirty years from now, they'll say this is the day the Crows started selling natural gas."

Darrin Old Coyote, vice secretary of the Crow Tribe, at a
ceremony Wednesday to celebrate the beginning of natural-gas
production on the tribe's Montana reservation.

- Billings Gazette

"When you look at Glacier National Park and the Flathead Basin, you really are looking at an economic engine for America."

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, during his visit Tuesday to the
Montana national park, where he urged Montana and Canada to work
together to protect the pristine Flathead River.
- Missoulian

"Some people seem to want us to wait until there's a body before we act. Well, we don't work that way."

Jack Potter, chief of science and natural resources at
Glacier National Park about a decision to remove a 17-year-old
grizzly bear from the Montana park
because she's
become too habituated to humans.
- Missoulian

"The bottom line is if Western states want to retain a significant role in siting transmission for renewable fuels, things have got to change or the feds will take over."

James Holtkamp, manager of Holland & Hart's global climate
change practice, about a report that urges Western states
to be proactive in getting transmission lines built.

- Casper Star-Tribune

"They didn't eat what they killed, most of them were just brought down. I don't know whether they were teaching their pups or what."

Kathy Konen, a Dillon-area rancher, discussing the 120 buck
sheep killed by wolves last week on her Montana ranch.

- Montana Standard

"Even if we emptied the pockets of everybody here we couldn’t put the fire out. It’s going to take precipitation and cooler weather to put the fire out. A season-ending event. "

Buster Windhorst, the Stevensville Ranger District
Fire Management Officer, about the Kootenai Creek wildfire
in Montana
that roared to life on Saturday.
- Ravalli Republic

"It’s a great result for grizzly bears."

Craig Kenworthy, conservation director for the Greater
Yellowstone Coalition, about a federal judge's decision to return grizzly bears in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming to the endangered species list.
- Jackson Hole Daily

"Let me just re-emphasize my personal commitment to protection of the country's roadless areas."

Harris Sherman, at a Senate committee hearing on his nomination
to be undersecretary for natural resources and environment
for the U.S. Department of Agriculture,
a post that oversees the
Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service.
- Durango Herald

"A statewide wilderness bill simply will not fly in the United States Senate."

U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, testifying Thursday against the
Red Rock Wilderness bill, which would designate 9.4 million
acres in Utah as wilderness.
- Salt Lake Tribune

"We didn't think wolves would be that vulnerable to firearms harvest."

Carolyn Sime, wolf program coordinator for Montana Fish,
Wildlife and Parks, about the success rate of wolf hunters in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness along the northern border
of Yellowstone National Park.
- Billings Gazette

"The answer to energy development in the West is not 'no,' but rather 'where.'"

David Naugle, a wildlife landscape ecologist at the University
of Montana, and co-author of a three-year study that
recommends energy development away from areas of
sensitive habitat for sage grouse.

- New York Times (Greenwire)

"We have laws to protect endangered animals. We need that kind of protection for farmland, which will soon be extinct."

Seth Roberts, a young Colorado farmer, who is pinning his
hopes on getting farmland through Chaffee County's Land
Link program, which matches up young farmers with farms.

- Denver Post

"We know it's going to be hot, but nobody's ever drilled that deep in these areas."

John Shervais, professor and head of Utah State's Department of Geology, about a geothermal research project under way in Idaho.
- Twin Falls Times-News

"Bison, of course, would not end up confining themselves to a national park and that would create fairly significant management issues for us."

Dave Ealey, spokesman for Alberta Sustainable Resource
Development, about the province's opposition Canada's plan
to reintroduce bison into Banff National Park.

- Toronto National Post

"Trade groups for the oil and gas industry need to understand that they do not own the nation’s public lands. Taxpayers do."

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, firing back at oil and gas
companies' criticism of the Obama administration's leasing policies.


"My reaction is sort of one of despair. The speakers from the state agencies spoke as if this is the way things are and they can't be changed."

Bob LeResche of the Powder River Basin Resource Council,
after the first day of a meeting of a new working group convened
to address Wyoming's rules on coalbed methane discharge water.
- Casper Star-Tribune


Center Web Site
Archived Center Newsletters
Headwaters News
The University of Montana
KUFM Public Radio

regional trends

The Job-less Recovery

While the U.S. economy is beginning to see some improvement and there are increasing signs of recovery, the improvement that is proving to be the most difficult is in the area of jobs growth. While the U.S. economy is no longer losing hundreds of thousands of jobs each month, positive jobs growth has not yet returned. The result of this is that unemployment rates across the country stubbornly remain at very high levels – 10% and higher in many areas. The map below shows how these unemployment rates vary across the U.S. at the county level. Fortunately some of the lowest unemployment rates to be found in the U.S. are in the Interior West, including some areas of the Rocky Mountain West.

Click here for more...

Unemployment rate - click for more

recent activities

On Dec. 17 in Missoula, Mont., Center Director Larry Swanson made a presentation at the Winter Missoula Business Forum entitled "Where we’ve been; Where we’re going in 2010". The Forum is an on-going program organized and hosted by eight major business associations in Missoula including: Missoula Chamber of Commerce, Missoula Organization of Realtors, Missoula Downtown Association, Missoula Area Economic Development Corp., Missoula Mid-Town Association, Missoula Business Women’s Network, Missoula Building Industry Association, and Missoula Convention and Visitors Bureau. A panel of area business people and others also discussed key conditions and trends affecting the area economy and businesses over the last year and into next year.

On Nov. 20 in Missoula, Mont., Swanson participated in a videoconference hosted by First Interstate Banks in Missoula, Billings, and Great Falls focused on learning more about potential climate change impacts in Montana and possible national policy responses including Cap and Trade legislation.  Participants included 25 business leaders from throughout Montana.

On Nov. 19 in Kalispell, Mont., Swanson gave the keynote presentation for a community forum entitled "Re-Powering the Flathead for a New Energy Economy." The meeting was hosted by Flathead Valley Community College with over 20 sponsoring businesses and organizations including Citizens for a Better Flathead and AirWorks Heating and Cooling. Other presenters included Kellie Danielson of Montana West Economic Development, Margie Jones of Community Action Partnership, Haley Beaudry who formerly headed Columbia Falls Aluminum, and Craig Wilkins of Zinc Air.

On Nov. 17 in Missoula, Mont., Swanson participated in a faculty planning meeting with representatives of the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ). The SEJ will be holding its annual conference at the University of Montana next fall. Up to 800 journalists from around the country will be attending the meeting.

On Nov. 12 in Billings, Mont., Swanson gave an invited presentation to senior executives and directors of First Interstate BancSystem, discussing key trends and emerging sectors in the economies of Montana and Wyoming.

On Oct. 29-30 in Missoula, Mont., KPAX television aired EconTracker news segments featuring interviews with Larry Swanson commenting on the area economy.

On Oct. 24th, Missoula, Mont., Associate Director William Farr spoke at the 2009 Montana Festival of the Book on his recent publication of Julius Seyler and the Blackfeet.  

On Oct. 16th in Whitefish, Mont., Swanson spoke to the 2009 Class of Leadership Montana. He described major trends occurring in Montana’s economy and in its population and highlighted areas that will require attention by Montana leadership in coming years related to fundamental restructuring of the state’s economy and population aging.

Between Oct. 12 and 14 in north-central Mont., Swanson and Tyler Sutton of the Grassland Foundation in Neb. toured the project area of the American Prairie Foundation (APF).  The informational tour was led by Randy Gray of APF. APF has several large land holdings in the area north of the Charles Russell National Wildlife Refuge and is managing these lands for wildlife, including the reintroduction of bison. Swanson and Sutton are currently developing a plan for a study of the efficacy of large private nature reserves in the northern Great Plains.

On Oct. 8 in Helena, Mont., Swanson spoke at a planning meeting of the Montana State Fund, describing important changes occurring in the state’s economy and work force.

On Oct. 5 in Missoula, Mont. at the Hilton Garden Inn, Swanson gave a presentation entitled "Missoula’s Health Sector: A necessary service and growing economic asset." This was part of the Fall Missoula Business Forum, a regular quarterly meeting process planned and hosted by eight business organizations and association in Missoula. These include the Missoula Chamber of Commerce, Missoula Organization of Realtors, Missoula Area Economic Development, Missoula Women’s Business Network, Missoula Convention and Visitors Bureau, Missoula Building Association, Missoula Downtown Association, and Missoula Mid-Town Association. The forum also was co-sponsored by First Security Bank, the Missoulian newspaper, and the Hilton Garden Inn.

On Oct. 2 in Missoula, Mont., Swanson participated in a meeting of UM scientists and Montana business people exploring how climate change and global warming may impact Montana and elements of Montana business and economy.

On Sept. 30 in Missoula, Mont., Swanson spoke at the annual meeting of the Montana Nonprofit Association entitled "Connections." He identified important changes occurring in the Montana economy and discussed the role of nonprofits in positioning Montana communities for greater prosperity.

On Sept. 23 in Missoula, Mont., Swanson gave a presentation at an informational meeting of the Missoula Public School Board on population and enrollment trends and projections for Missoula County. MPS contracted with Swanson and the O’Connor Center to study the changing population demographics of the area and to provide to them for planning purposes enrollment projections for elementary, middle, and high schools within the public school district. He gave a similar presentation to a smaller gathering of MPS board members on August 26.

On Sept. 5, in Great Falls, Mont., at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, Farr presented "The Blackfeet Adoption of Walter McClintock" as part of the 2009 Indian Voices Program.

center in the news 

Frenchtown pulp mill victim of global supply and demand - Missoulian, Dec. 20, 2009

Slow economic growth forecast for 2010; Missoula will soon be largest city in Montana - Missoulian, Dec. 18, 2009

For the past 20 years, the economy of western Montana, in particular Missoula, has steadily pulled away from its blue-collar manufacturing roots to become a regional economic hub with diverse and vibrant sectors in the areas of health care, education, business and professional services, and retail - Missoulian, Dec. 16, 2009

For regional economists, the announcement that Smurfit-Stone will permanently close their Frenchtown mill was unwelcome, but expected - Missoulian, Dec. 15, 2009

"Energy, the Economy, and Jobs...Planning for the Future" Seminar to be held in Kalispell - Daily InterLake, Nov. 19, 2009

Missoula business prepares for slower holiday shopping season -, Nov. 6, 2009

Montana Realtors eager to dust off welcome mats -, Oct. 28, 2009

Montana's economy on the way back, however, Montana likely won't rebound to the full level of economic activity it enjoyed before the recession hit according to economists - Helena Independent Republic, Oct. 24, 2009

Retail: Treading water Montana's economy will be stable for the winter and should start to recover by next spring - Billings Gazette, Oct. 24, 2009

Healthy competition: St. Patrick, Community walk fine line on collaboration - Missoulian, Oct. 10, 2009

Montana's economy begins slow recovery, but jobless rate stays flat - Missoulian, Oct. 5, 2009

Missoula Business Forum recognizes impact of health care - Missoulian, Oct. 2, 2009

Funding in crisis: Nonprofits hit hard by dwindling sources of money - Missoulian, Sept. 30, 2009

Missoula County Public Schools should see a steady increase in enrollment over the next 15 to 20 years - Missoulian, Sept. 27, 2009 

Western Montana slowly emerges from recession, but with a changed economy - Missoulian, Sept. 6, 2009

Indian Voices Program: "A Point of Entry: The Blackfeet Adoption of William McClintock" - Great Falls Tribune, Sept. 5, 2009

"Clusters" pave the way for economic vitality - Billings, Aug. 26, 2009

Provided by Shellie Nelson, Editor, Headwaters News

There's a lot happening in the Rocky Mountain West with regard to energy — old and new.  And to help Headwaters News' readers keep track of it, Headwaters launched its Energy Review in early October.

The monthly posting on the first weekend of each month will take a look back at the previous month's articles on wind, solar and geothermal energy; coal, natural gas and uranium; as well as news about transmission and generation projects, and energy-related legislation.

The first Energy Review posted Oct. 3 and offered readers an update on wind energy projects in Wyoming and elsewhere in the West; with PacifiCorp and Rocky Mountain Power both buying into projects in the Cowboy State, but Colorado-based Xcel Energy declining to add any wind power from Wyoming to its renewable energy portfolio.

Wind developers criticized Montana's project-by-project regulatory structure for the Big Sky State's lag in wind power projects, with Idaho's set "wind-integration fee," touted as a better option.

Solar power dimmed a bit in California, after BrightSource Energy Inc. withdrew its plans for a 5,130-acre solar power plant in the Mohave Desert. Two projects in Nevada's northern Amargosa Valley have met considerable resistance, because the technology proposed for those projects would need 1.3 million gallons of water annually
about 20 percent of the valley's available waterfor cooling purposes.

The University of Utah will use $7 million in federal stimulus money for research at U.S. Geothermal Inc.'s Raft River power plant in southeast Idaho to test new technology using high-pressure water to crack open heat-bearing rocks. Meanwhile seismic activity forced the shut down of another geothermal plant in August in Germany.

On the biofuel front, the U.S. Navy signed a contract with Bozeman-based Sustainable Oils for the Montana company to supply 40,000 gallons of camelina-based fuel for its jet fighters. In Utah, researchers planted safflower and other oilseeds on roadsides and vacant lands in the state as part of that state's Freeways to Fuel program, and began harvesting the safflower plants in September.

A lot of activity on transmission projects occurred last month as well, with the federal Energy Department giving the Montana-Alberta Tie Line project, which will stretch from Great Falls to Lethbridge the green light.

Colorado-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association proposed a new 80-mile transmission line between its substations in New Mexico near Shiprock and Ignacio, Colo.; Rocky Mountain Power and Idaho Power proposed new possible pathways for the $2 billion, 1,150-mile line Gateway West project between Glenrock, Wyo., and a substation near Murphy, Idaho; and TransCanada announced it would be auctioning off capacity on two projects the Canadian company is proposing to build--one from southeast Wyoming to Nevada's Eldorado Valley near Las Vegas, and the other from southeast Montana to the Eldorado Valley. 

The November Energy Review posted in early December, with natural gas getting a lot of attention in November, including the endorsement of oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens, who is promoting natural gas as the fuel of the future for vehicles. 

In Wyoming, lawmakers were busy preparing proposed legislation on regulation, and perhaps, taxation of the wind industry.

Geothermal resources were of great interest in November, with federal stimulus funds pouring into a project in Idaho's Magic Valley, with the research being done via a partnership between universities in Idaho, Utah and Alberta. The Arizona Geological Survey also received a chunk of federal stimulus funds
$17.4 millionto collect information on geothermal projects in the nation and to put together a database on that work.

If you're interested in receiving the Energy Update each month, please email the editor at Headwaters News and request that you be put on the mailing list.

center staff activities

Swanson continues to serve on the editorial advisory committee of the Missoulian newspaper and as a member of the strategic planning committee of Missoula Community Medical Center.


The Center recently completed a study of population demographics and future enrollment trends for the Missoula Public School District and the MPS Superintendent’s Office. The study report includes enrollment projections for the school district through 2030. 

Swanson and the Center also continue work with the International Pascal Observatory serving as a member of two committees evaluating and reviewing university regional engagement projects in the U.S. One of these involves an expansion of working relationships between Northern Illinois University and surrounding community colleges in the Northern Illinois region in addressing area workforce education needs and opportunities. The other will involve statewide work by the University of Colorado in areas of workforce development and education.

Milwaukee Station, home of the
O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West

The O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West is a program of The University of Montana in Missoula.