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Old 12-28-2012, 10:22 AM
Location: A Very Naughtytown In Northwestern Montanifornia U.S.A.
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Originally Posted by WyoEagle View Post
Montana is very different from the west coast. The only similarity is that they have mountains.
Ummm ! This thread is about the people in those different regions not the topography. Crikey
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Old 01-01-2013, 11:12 AM
Location: North Dakota
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Originally Posted by DontLookPhoto View Post
Ummm ! This thread is about the people in those different regions not the topography. Crikey
Read carefully before jumping to conclusions. I meant that the two areas are nothing alike and the ONLY similarity is that they both have mountains. And just to clarify, I didn't mean the topography.
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Old 01-02-2013, 05:53 PM
Location: 406
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Originally Posted by ElkHunter View Post
It's not often you see a thousand questions in just a couple short paragraphs.

I thought I would throw in my two cents worth, I have lived in Montana, the midwest (South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska) and I have lived on the West Coats, (California, Oregon and Washington).

No. The folks in Montana are nothing like the folks on the Coast, nor are they anything like the folks in the Midwest, although, they are closer to being like Midwesterners than they are the left Coast.

But keep in mind, Montana is a large state and has more than one culture.

Western Montana folks, for the most part, pay for their scenery, and they like it. Land is more expensive but the folks that live there are willing to accept that cost. Central Montana is the more industrial area> Billings, Roundup, Laurel, are the refinery, manufacturing, and what's left of lumber. Eastern Montana are more the farming/ranching families.

All of Montana folks are more reserved than the states around them. They're not standoffish, or rude, but they are more quiet until they figure you out. Too many times folks have went to Montana with the sole purpose of accepting Montana as it is, so that's where they want to live. But then, a month or so down the road, they decide that what Montana really needs is to be more like where they came from, so they are all for changing what they can. Nobody understands that because if they wanted to move there so bad, because they liked it, why are they so hell bent on changing it. Also, if life was so good where they came from, why'd they leave? Plus, you have the folks that want to build that McMansion and live in it one month out of the year, but they want that Starbucks available, the Barnes and Noble and all the Big Box stores built on your side of town because even though they can't live without it, they don't want to have to see it from their porch. So the folks are more reserved or quiet, until they figure out just where this new neighbor fits in the scheme of things.

The service industry folks are friendly and outgoing, but that's different than a neighbor. The neighbors are not rude, just quiet. You might say they have been burnt too many times.

When you think of Liberals, vrs Conservatives, vrs Tea Party, Montana doesn't fit the mold that you are used to. You can't paint them with a wide brush. A liberal in Montana is probably more Conservative than a lot of conservatives from elsewhere. People are more middle of the roads. You'll see as many Conservatives vote for a Democrat as you do Liberals vote for a republican. They tend to vote for the person they think will do the best job, regardless of their party affiliation.

When you think of people from Montana, think of them as that quiet old rancher or cowhand. They'll tell you something once, and expect you to pay attention. They're not the type of people to harp on you. Yes, some are rather stubborn, but they have reason to be that way. A lot of the ranch families have had that ranch in the family since they bought the land or obtained it from the Government, back in the 1800's.

Should you break down, somebody will stop to help you and they're not doing it because they want paid, matter of fact, most will be insulted if you try and pay them. They simply want to help a person in need. In the same sentence, they expect you to take care of yourself, as long as you are able. You want to get shunned in short order, just move into a house and then tell all your neighbors how good the welfare system pays. They expect you to work, and earn a living good enough to take care of the toys you buy. Most are not overly impressed with your toys anyhow. If you want to get in good, ask for advice, and then pay attention.

They are not opposed to change, but they are leery of change. Chances are, what you want to change has already been tried, but if you ask first and wait to be asked for suggestions, they'll accept those suggestion a lot easier than if you walk in the door making suggestions.

So where does all that fit in? I'd say that Montana is pretty much a state of it's own people. They make mistakes and are readily accepting in the consequences.
This is, overall, a pretty good assessment of Montanans (especially rural Montanans) in terms of local culture, character and personality, but I do disagree with a couple of the faulty political characterizations you make.

Politically, I'd have to say that MT has a much more prevalent liberal (and libertarian) orientation than any of the states that surround it, but surely to a lesser extent than the coastal states. Additionally, I would strongly beg to differ that a self-proclaimed liberal in Montana is "more conservative" than a traditional conservative from elsewhere in the U.S.--a casual examination of many of our elected representatives to state-wide and federal offices (along with many of our legislative constituencies), for example, can easily dispute that claim.

All in all, though, it isn't particularly easy to abscribe any sort of political label to Montanans, as we can be, I think, a politically confusing bunch when broadly examining the voting behavior within the state. One could say that Montanans behave politically like Western Washingtonians one moment and Wyomingites the next--it's quite funny, really.

Anyway, thanks for the thoughtful post.
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Old 01-05-2013, 02:51 AM
Location: Montana
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I wouldn't call Montana "liberal", where you see that is in cliques that want to push their beliefs on other people or in the colleges.. I would say there is a "live and let live" mindset here for the most part. Nothing like the coast, and hope it never gets that way, especially with all of the "move in and change it" people that come from those areas. Most of us just want to live our lives, be happy, and pass the freedoms we enjoy on to our kids.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:08 AM
Location: Billings, MT
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One must keep in mind that there are a LOT of former Montanans in the Pacific Northwest.
They used to have a "Montana Picnic" in the Seattle area for those transplants. It was attended by literally thousands of people, mostly former Montanans.
I don't know if it is still being held or not. I haven't lived there since 1970.
IMO, Elkhunter's post is right on the mark.
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Old 01-05-2013, 01:29 PM
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There are some things that I think are alike. Casual dress, health/fitness lifestyles, having active golden years, and car/truck culture-everyone knows how to drive.
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Old 01-06-2013, 03:33 PM
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My grandfather was born on the family ranch in Western Montana in 1867, was in the Montana Cattle Wars, as a gunman protecting their holdings. He married my grandmother 25 years later in Billings Mt. However they left the state, and went to California. I have heard many stories about early Montana. After living every where from the East Coast to the West Coast, etc., back in the Corporate life I lived for years, I have seen much of the U.S.

Montana is much like Northern California, through Seattle used to be like as far as the people go back in the 50s. The changes on the West Coast have been dramatic over the last few years, and no longer is close to what they are like in Montana. The culture has changed tremendously. Example California was 88% or so white people in 1960, 77% 1970, 2000 50%, now about 39% and falling fast. Hispanic 12% 1970, 31% 2000, and by 2015 will be the predominate population in the state. Asian 3% 1970 12% 2000, and about 14% today. Black population falling from 7% to 6%. Over 30% of Californians speak Spanish at home, and over 50% of Californians speak a language other than English at home. The culture of the state is changing drastically, and this is happening up and down the West Cost.

Montana on the other hand is 90% White Race with the second race being American Indian, with 7 reservations in Montana with some larger than the smallest state.

What you are seeing when compared to West Coast, is the culture there is changing, and Montana is near the same as it always was.

I have found since moving here a few years ago, is that the people are very friendly. Drive down the street and people give a friendly wave to strangers. People are easy to start a conversation, and willing top help neighbors. Some examples of how neighbors help neighbors at least in south central Montana.

In the last 5 years, we have had two snows with blowing wind that gave us as much as 30 inches of snow covering our 600 foot of private lane, and parking areas in front of our house. Both times a neighbor came over and plowed us out without our asking for help, just one friend helping another.

When we moved in, we had a truck to unload. Some of the executives where my daughter works, heard her looking to hire someone to do it, and told her that is not the way it is done in Montana. After work, 6 executives came over and unloaded the truck.

Last week our housekeeper who is a young woman got a phone call when at our house, and she left when she heard her neighbors house was burning and would be a total loss (they both live in the country). Her husband was working 50 miles away. They both left immediately and took this 82 year old widow into his home. Another neighbor had moved to the bigger city, and left their home vacant except for a summer weekend retreat. They heard about it, called and offered it to him to live in at no cost till he could get another home built and he was moved in and O.K. that same evening.

They are firendly there to help without being asked, and willing to give you your privacy. It is a combination I saw back in the 40s and 50s in California, but no where else. There are some people that move to Montana that say things just the opposite.

I have observed that the people that want to come in and make things like it was where they are from, do not have the same experience I have had. In fact they are made miserable to the point it often drives them out. If you come to Montana with an attitude you want to be one of them, they welcome you into the fold. If you come in and want to change things they will drive you out. Don't tell them how it is where you came from and how much better that is. They call than trying to turn the area into another California or wherever you come from, and they don't like it.

Come to Montana to be one of us (we have been well accepted), and you are welcome. Come in and tell us how much better it was where you are from, and they will do everything in their power to send you back where you are happy.
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Old 01-07-2013, 06:15 PM
Location: Western USA
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Ok, so maybe this has already been covered (I didn't read every post), but MT is an extremely large state with a somewhat divided population, culturally speaking. Having lived in both the East, West and Central parts of the state, I will give a two part answer:

1. Western MT leans heavily West Coast, especially Pacific Northwest.
If MT were split into two different states at the continental divide, Western MT would have far more in common with the Coast than Eastern MT. Hell, Washington or Idaho would probably annex everything West of Butte and no one would blink! (Kidding...)

The culture of the Western part of the State (Which I am defining as "West of the Continental Divide" for reasons of clarity, and maybe Bozeman as well) is much more similar to Washington, Oregon and possibly NorCal than anything you will find in the Midwest. People are chill but also somewhat reserved, love their outdoors, love their independence and are "live and let live" in mentality. The average person is not overly religious, even those who are very politically conservative, much like WA and OR in particular. Also, practically everyone in Western MT either has family in WA and OR, or travels there several times a year for fun, to see concerts, the Seahawks, etc. The cultural, economic and regional ties are very close, especially when you go to Missoula, the Flathead and anything further West. Seattle is the "Big City" for this region of the United States, even if it is hundreds of miles away.

Western Montana is nowhere close to as socially liberal as the Coast, but there is also a similar mentality there; Compare Washington cultural liberals with the type of libertarianism in MT and parts of Idaho. Both mindsets stem from a "Live and Let Live" mentality and a general sense of freedom from constraints, but they just manifest themselves differently. Montanans love guns and the nebulous idea of freedom from "control," while Washington just legalized Marijuana and Gay marriage. Both areas buck national politics and attitudes in certain ways. Libertarians in this part of the state also tend to be more socially liberal, um, besides the Flathead. That's another story. Anyway, call me crazy, but there is a deeper ideological similarity with at least the Pacific NW and Western MT beyond "partisan" politics.

2. Eastern MT (Anything East of Bozeman) is its own world, and does not lean West Coast

Eastern MT is a tough cookie to crack, definition wise. On the one had, its largest city (Billings) is closer to Denver and Salt Lake City than any other major metro areas in the country, followed by Boise. Seattle is a good 12 hour drive from Billings. However, Billings doesn't necessarily feel or act like the other Intermountain West metros as much as Missoula and Western MT feels and acts like the Pacific NW cities it's closer to. Rather, Billings and the smaller Eastern communities have a distinct and very, very conservative culture. Many midwestern transplants live in Eastern MT, especially from North Dakota. The landscape is drastically different as well, and a large portion of this region is vast prarie which runs unbroken into the North Dakota border. Climate wise, culturally and economically, Eastern MT is much more similar to North Dakota and other upper Midwestern areas.

Oil and energy development are king in this part of the state. Economically speaking, Eastern MT has more ties to North Dakota and other parts of the Midwest than anywhere on the Coast as well.

However, when all is said and done, Eastern MT still feels, well, like Eastern MT. The culture is distinct in its own ways. In the interest of full disclosure, I am much, much, much more partial to Western MT for many reasons (natural beauty and politics!!). Anyway, both ends of the State are fairly distinct and not easily pigeonholed, but I will give the West Coast nod to Western MT. This is a huge state people!
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Old 01-08-2013, 08:32 AM
Location: SW Montana
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When I go back to visit in-laws in the upper Midwest, I usually last about a week before I'm itchy to get back home. They are great people and all, but during conversation I find distinct boundaries to how far a subject gets thought out and to what degree a particular topic gets taken. They tend to be much more cognizant of rules, regulations, and highway numbers (rather than landmarks). They have no problem asking a total stranger what's good in a restaurant, and then dutifully ordering it, a practice which has baffled me for years.

Most are pretty level headed folks. As a rule, they are much more willing to farm out work apart from their jobs; home improvement, grounds, repair work, etc. They are more social than I am used to, and taking a day to wander alone high in the mountains is a pretty foreign idea - gathering a group for an easy day sitting in a campground or by a lake is much more seductive.

Many of my side of the family wound up in Oregon during and just after WWII; generally speaking, they are not like this and tend more towards self-reliance. But then again, they are barely a generation separated from their prairie homesteading parents and grandparents, an experience which I assure you was one of the tougher around.

I think most Montanans are less likely to be single minded, and more likely to take action on their own if needed. The vast breadth of topography tends to give us broad horizons which translates to an open mind and a willingness to give the next person room to do his or her own thing. Folks who pit their legs and lungs against the high country tend to gain a respect for the scale of their lives, somehow. It also gives a respect for the land, air and water, which is, according to a long ago editorial by the Missoulian which hangs on our wall, the basis for what makes Montanans nearly unique. We are all driven by the vastness and beauty of this state, and the pride of being an integral part of the population thereof.

I like that we tend to be diverse in ideas, and occasionally grin at the idea of a fight. We don't automatically cave to outside ideas, but do adopt good ones. If a disaster hit, I would bet that the majority wouldn't waste time yelling for help or rolling over, but pick themselves up and start getting the place back together again. All the while helping out those who were in trouble.

All in all, I imagine Montana has a lot in common with many other places. I would not, however, leave here for any amount of fame or fortune. Had too many friends who moved only to always lament they did.
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