Montana was a state in the US Northwest bordering Canada. It received its name from the mountain ranges in the western end of the Montana Territory which became the 41st state of the United States on November 8, 1889. Sparsely populated, the state was the fourth largest state in the former USA. Though the survivors of the state all joined the Provisional United States in 1992, from it came a new state, Kootenai, and a portion of another new state, Absaroka.
Home to numerous Native American tribes, the northeastern half of Montana (above the Missouri River) was claimed by the United States in 1803. However, it was not until gold was discovered in the area that many Americans moved there. The Montana area became known as the Montana Territory in 1864 in the midst of the American Civil War. Later, on November 8, 1889, it became a state.
The earliest immigrants into the state were Chinese workers brought in to work the gold and copper mines in the late nineteenth century. However, the white population began to greatly outnumber the indigenous peoples when the Homestead Act of 1862 was revised early in the twentieth century. For a period of about twenty years immigrants and first-generation Americans poured into the state with the promise of "free land" from the US government. From 1900 to 1920 the population doubled from around 250,000 to over 540,000 people. This was followed by a net decrease in population in the 1920's, followed by slow growth that began when folks began to move west to escape the failure of the "good life" in the nation's urban areas on both coasts. Steady, though slower, growth for fifty years (spurred by an agricultural and tourism based economy) resulted in almost only about a fifty percent increase to around 750,000 in 1983.
Early evening September 25, 1983, Malmstrom Air Force Base near Great Falls was leveled by a 1.4 mt nuclear bomb. This was near Great Falls, a major population center in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The mountains acted to amplify the blast's effects on structures half-way to Helena (on the other side of the ridge of mile high peaks). The worst destruction, though was by a massive influx of low-yeild 20 kt nukes striking the "hidden" missile silos in an attempt to stop the next wave of missiles. Few American missiles were destroyed in this way, but the resulting radioactive dust clouds fell for hundreds of miles to the east as far as the Mississippi River. An estimated 100,000 people died in these attacks.
Within days, the few refugees that survived the attacks filled the hospitals in Helena. The EMP from a blast 150 miles over Ridgeway Colorado had knocked out most modern electronic equipment, and the medicines on hand began to run out quickly. Governor Ted Schwinden's office struggled for months to cope with the emergency. However, most of the legislators were had been in their home districts for the weekend. Growing chaos overwhelmed the skeleton crew left. By October 15th, the governor, Lt. Governor George Turman, and a handful of staff relocated to Billings, flying in the two small jets the governor's office had at its disposal. Though technicians had altered the engines to run without electronics, the pilots had had no choice but to fly by visual flight rules. After the 90-minute flight, though, neither jet saw flight time for nearly a decade.
The Lakota War
See main article: The Lakota War
Doomsday was a disaster to most people in North America, but to the more radical of the Native Americans (or "American Indians," aka Amerinds) it was an opportunity to rise to power. Russell Means, taking the Lakota name Oyate Wacinyapin (Works for the People), had been active in the "American Indian Movement" (AIM) since 1968, a year before the group occupied federal property - Alcatraz Island off the California coast. For a little over nineteen months, including the whole year of 1969, the occupation was used to secure concessions from the US government. Doomsday, which had severed all communication from the government in Washington, DC, afforded the still powerful AIM to rise to prominence among Amerinds all over North America. Means' tribe, the Lakota Sioux, was among the most prominent.
However, when the Lakota began to expand from their traditional lands in the western Dakotas into Montana, things became serious for Governor Schwinden. Billings, out of necessity, had become a self-contained city-state. While representing the people of all of Montana, communication was so bad that no legislators from any of the districts but those around Billings had been able to sustain any form of state-wide government. However, the Lakota had known that was where the majority of "white men" were. Working his way across the state, Means and his war bands took control of villages and small towns, sometimes without much of a fight, on their way to Montana's largest town. In February on 1988, Miles City fell in a bloody battle which resulted in 2,374 militia and civilian deaths. By June, the Lakota had brought in re-enforcements and staged a siege of Billings from their new stronghold in Miles city.
By the time the government of Wyoming had mustered a volunteer army, under the command of General Ray Hunkins, surrounded the Lakota forces, Ted Schwinden had fallen in battle as he had taken personal responsibility to lead the "Billings Brigade" of a variety of trained military personnel stationed in and around the city for the past three years. The divided fronts led to the final surrender of the Lakota on March 10, 1989. New governor Stan Stevens, formerly president of the state Senate, was one of the signatories of the peace treaty signed in Beach, a border town of what had been North Dakota. Most Montanans were not at all pleased that the Lakota had been granted sovereignty over part of two former US states in that treaty.
An uneasy peace settled over the state for two years as Hunkin's forces kept troops in Billings and Miles City. Every town with any autonomy at all had at least one detachment of soldiers to protect it. Meanwhile, things were happening in Wyoming.
The Constitutional Convention of 1991
Governor Mike Sullivan of Wyoming had no intention of ruling all of the occupied territories after the Lakota War. Instead, he sent messengers and telegrams where possible, to as many of the counties within Wyoming's influence - in the whole states of Montana and Wyoming and parts of Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado - with an open call for delegates to meet in the border town of Torrington, Wyoming. His aim was to establish a provisional government to maintain peace and order until such a time as the government of the United States of America could re-establish its rightful place on the North American continent.
Governor Stan Stephens headed a large delegation of thirty-two men and women from all points of the state. He made it clear to Governor Sullivan that the state of Montana had never ceased to exist, and that every effort should be made to continue as part of the "greatest nation on earth." Other than Wyoming, though, the delegates from three other former US states did not represent formal governments. The residents of Scott's Bluff County, Nebraska, though, had formed an association of communities around the largest city of Scottsbluff. This association came in full force representing the "whole state" of Nebraska.
The convention ended June 28th, 1991, and by July 4th copies printed on presses in Torrington were dispersed back to Montana and the other states listed in the First Article: Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado.
more to come...