Tags: montana

Long post: The Tourist Test

OK, I told you last time I was going to give you the results of my taking the Kamana “Tourist Test,” so here it is:

THE TOURIST TEST

“…If you don’t know the answer right off, just move on to the
next question. It shouldn’t take you that long, maybe an hour.
Enjoy the test and regardless of whether you feel you were able
to answer many of the questions or not, take time to reflect upon
this once you have finished.”

Name: Lance Foster
Today’s date: Jan. 2, 2013
Name of nearest town: Helena
Simple description of the area: Intermountain valley in western Montana

INSTRUCTIONS : The first thing you should remember when taking
this test is that honesty is the best policy. The object is not to
prove anything, but simply to find out what you know and what
you do not know. The test will illuminate for you what Wilderness Awareness School is all about. If you find yourself interested in
knowing the kinds of things that are on this test, then this school
is for you.

Find a quiet place where you will be able to concentrate. Answer
the questions in short, succinct phrases or with single word
answers. If you do not know the answer, leave a blank. Quick
guesses are fine. If you were asked, “What is 2+2?”, in a second
you would write “4.” This is how we want you to treat this test.

When answering the questions on the following pages be sure to
think of plants and animals that are specifically located in the area
described above (only name animals and plants from the bioregion
that you have chosen). Have fun!

1. Name two species of ticks found in your area.
a) Deer tick
b) Dog tick

2. Describe these ticks by size, color and general characteristics.
a) Brown, small, flat body
b) Smaller but similar to above

3. What two diseases are carried by ticks?
a) Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
b) Lyme Disease

4. How does one prevent tick infestation when traveling in the
wilds?
= Tuck pants legs into socks or boots; keep out of brushy areas

5. Which wind in your area is the harbinger of heavy rains?
= West/southwest wind

6. Which direction does the cold, clear air blow from?
= North/northwest

7. What type of tree is lightning most likely to strike in your area?
= Boxelder (I see lightning scars on several in the neighborhood); large Ponderosa pine

8. What five plants in your area are most poisonous to eat?
a) Death camas
b) Water hemlock
c) -
d) -
e) -

9. Name one poisonous snake in your area. (If none, write “none”)
= Rattlesnake

10. What is a sign in your area of a particularly cold winter to
come?
= Extra fuzz on fuzzy caterpillars

11. Which plant growing locally is known to natives of the region
for its effectiveness in cases of fever, colds or respiratory ailments?
= Chief’s medicine (I think it’s horsemint or bergamot, but not sure at the moment, I just knoww hat it looks like when flowering- pink-purplish flowers)

12. Which plant growing locally is known to natives of the region
for its effectiveness in aiding insect bites or stings?
= Not sure what the Indians used here, but I use either mud or plantain weed

13. How are they used?
a) chief’s medicine: tea and/or in sweatlodge on hot rocks
b) insect bite: mud, apply to bite; plantain weed: chew and apply

14. When is the best time of year or in their life cycles to gather
these plants?
a) chief’s medicine: just before or during flowering
b) plantain weed: anytime

15. Name two plants which are edible that have poisonous lookalikes
growing in the same bioregion.
a) camas/death camas
b) water hemlock/cow parsnip

16. When people encounter bears in the wild, they sometimes do
things which cause bears to become aggressive. Name two of the
most dangerous and common situations where bears are known
to attack people.
a) bear surprised esp. when guarding food
b) cubs present

17. What time of day (during daylight hours) is least active for
birdsong and calls?
= Afternoon

18. When a mountain lion makes a kill, what does it do with the
carcass after it has had its fill?
= Covers with twigs, leaves, loose dirt, etc.

19. What are the symptoms of rabies in a wild animal?
= Stiff legs, growling, foaming/salivating a lot

20. Which mammal in your area does not have the potential to
carry rabies?
= Deer

21. What are the symptoms of distemper?
= Not sure

22. Name an animal in your area which commonly carries distemper.
= Fox?

23. Which trees are most dangerous in a wind storm? Name two
species and explain why they are dangerous.
a) Box elder: brittle limbs
b) Cottonwood: same

24. Name a tree that is good to hunker down by during a severe
wind storm.
= Not sure, maybe spruce?

25. Which trees make the best products for use as insulation in a
survival situation for building a temporary shelter.
= Juniper, spruce, fir, Douglas fir

26. Which trees in your area indicate an area of low sunlight, cold
or wet situations which should be avoided in a cold emergency
situation?
= Spruce and fir (not Douglas fir, real fir)

27. When a twig is ready to be harvested for burning there are
ways to tell. How does one recognize twigs which are perfect for
kindling?
= Very dry, break/snap easily but not crumbly

Track Identification
Use the illustrations A through L to answer question 28.

28. Pick 10 of the 12 tracks from the previous page and identify
the animal, or a close relative that lives near to you (non-human
that is). Identify the species (or at least family) of animal for each
of the 10 that you have chosen. Place the letter of each track next
the name.
1) A: Mink?
2) B: Cottontail rabbit
3) C: Squirrel
4) D: Looks like an opossum but they don’t live here, nor any of their relatives
5) E: Deer (we have two species, white tail and mule deer)
6) F: Some kind of cat, maybe bobcat
7) G: Dog or coyote
8) H: Fox?
9) I: Muskrat
10) J: Some kind of weasel?
11) K: Wolf or large dog
12) L: Fox?

Trail Interpretation for Gaits and Body Mechanics
Use the illustrations/questions A through L to answer question 29.

29. Look at the track and trail patterns on the previous two pages
and choose 10 which you can interpret. Place the letter of the
track pattern next to your brief interpretation.
1) A: Deer walking
2) B: Deer running
3) C: Cat walking
4) D: Cat running
5) E: Too blurry on test; can’t tell what it is, but it looks like it’s foraging
6) F: Rabbit, looks at #3 like it sped up
7) G: ?
8) H: ?
9) I: ? (Don’t know gaits at all I guess)
10) J: Doe?
11) K: Decrease?
12) L: ?


30. What is the relationship between the rate at which a track ages
and sunshine?
= If it dries out faster it ages faster, so if the track is in full sunshine would increase rate of aging.

31. What is the relationship between the rate at which a track ages
and:
a) sand content?
b) clay content?
= Sand drains better, so I would think the track would not only dry out faster, the grains are coarser so the track would lose shape faster as the particles crumble away from the edges as it dries. Clay would hold both moisture and shape longer, so the track would age more slowly

32. When a bird is singing from a low perch, how will a feeding
deer respond?
= It would imply there are no ground-based predators so that would calm the deer

33. What predator leaves its droppings at the base of large trees or
on logs?
= Bobcat? Fox? Not sure.

34. What predator leaves its droppings concisely at the intersection
of two trails but only in places in open country or with open
sky above?
= Not sure, maybe a member of the dog family

35. What predator marks its droppings, or those of another of the
same species, with urine?
= Don’t know

36. What animal sometimes fills hollow trees or caves with its
bean-shaped droppings?
= Don’t know

37. What is a deer’s most likely response to approaching humans?
= A quick look and then flight

38. Why do deer respond to approaching humans in this fashion?
= To identify what kind of predator is coming

39. Think of a deer’s most common response to approaching
humans. How do jays respond to the deer’s actions?
= Jays begin scolding?

40. Describe the odor of red fox urine.
= Don’t know- never smelled it.

41. What predator will eat a bird and leave feathers which are cut
neatly at the base—especially of the larger feathers?
= Don’t know

42. What predator will eat a bird and leave the feathers mangled
and matted with saliva?
= Something in the dog family

43. There is a large tree on the edge of a dense thicket bordering
a field. There is a slight breeze blowing from the southwest to the
northeast. There are many intact dove feathers in a northeastsouthwest
line with the smallest the furthest out into the field, the
largest right beneath the tree. It is afternoon. That morning at
dawn there was no wind, last night a south breeze blew. What is
the predator most likely to be?
= Owl of some kind, maybe great horned owl?

44. At the base of a pine tree there are several egg-shaped gray
masses of fur, skulls and feathers littered about that are of varying
ages. The masses are about golf-ball-sized in diameter. What are
these most likely to be?
= Owl pellets

45. Name an insect that becomes very abundant during late summer
and early fall in the grasslands and meadows and that provides
an important staple food for many ground feeding mammals
and birds.
= Grasshopper

46. What do green, shiny flies in large concentrations indicate?
= Feces around somewhere (or is that, a dead body around somewhere)

47. What type of caterpillar feeds on cherry and makes visible
webs that are commonly seen in spring?
= No idea, we don’t have cherry trees here; maybe a tent caterpillar?

48. What is one of the most dangerous spiders of your area and
what markings identify it?
= Black widow; red hourglass on underside of abdomen

49. What four-legged animal has five toes on the rear foot, four on
the front, and leaves footprints in the snow around the base of
berry or seed sources in the snow showing a predominately hopping
gait, with tail mark in the powder and a trail width of 1.5”?
= Not sure, meadow vole? Deer mouse?

50. What animal is so strong that it can hardly contain its energy
when it moves across the level ground and must jump extra far
every so many bounds just to use up that extra energy? Hint: It is
quite dense in body mass, it has bark colored fur and speaks with
its tail.
= Some kind of squirrel?

51. The tracks of this animal are in a pattern often confused with
the animal in #50, as they are similar in width and in the number
of tracks together. But it is almost its opposite in body density:
light, almost bird-like in its build, especially its bones and skull. It
uses its tail in a different way. It is colored like the ground it lives
next to and uses almost no trails in its usual forays for food—that
is, unless one considers the whole of its environment a trail.
= No idea from this description.

52. Where would one most likely encounter a network of vole
trails (Describe the environment especially concerning the relative
height and species make-up of the vegetation)?
= Meadow which has heavy snow during the winter; not sure of further details

53. What is a small mammal that feeds beneath the leaves and litter
but above the soil, either moving incessantly in its search for
insects and other invertebrates, or going into a state of torpid rest?
Its remains are often found in the pellets of owls.
= Shrew?

54. What small mammal feeds on insects, insect larvae, and other
invertebrates by wedging the root mass of surface vegetation into
a continuous trap for its prey?
= Mole?

55. Deer trails in the wilderness (away from the influences of the
modern world) appear and disappear as one follows them through
the forest. What is the reason for this?
= Because they concentrate in areas they must go across if those areas are steep so they make common trails in the easiest way to go up or down a slope, or through heavy brush, and that makes a deer trail. But in easy more open terrain the deer spread out more and so a trail is more rare since they don’t have to stick to one route,

56. What are two common rocks of your area (by name or description)?
a) Flathead sandstone
b) Madison limestone

57. What are three basic soils of your area?
a) Don’t know the names
b) “
c) “

58. What can you predict about the whereabouts and/or exposure
of deer regarding their winter daytime bedding areas in relation to
the four directions, weather, and position of the sun?
= Facing south/west to get more warmth if sunny; more in deep timber of weather is bad

59. How do squirrels and birds behave before a cold weather pattern
arrives in the winter or fall?
= Very active to forage more food in case they have to hunker down when the storm/cold hits

60. What did the settlers of the region do to the area that created
a major impact on the life of the area?
= They settled all the watered valleys and cut trees, changed all the vegetation to put in agriculture, drained ponds and marshes, made irrigation ditches and dams to alter the hydrological patterns. The mountains are still much like in the old days but the valleys and the wildlife depending on them are very changed.

61. How did this change in the land effect the rivers, lakes and/or
bays of the area?
= The Missouri River was dammed in several places, creating several artificial “lakes” (reservoirs) and drowning riparian systems, creating new systems with more infertile margins. The reservoirs are deeper and the water column is different; they were stocked with nonnative fish which meant the native species are gone or rare, and the introduced species (walleye for example) dominate the waters there.

62. What is the single most important factor affecting a deer herd’s
choice of trails in a suburban setting?
= Vegetative cover

63. What animal leaves a dropping, or series of droppings, in one
location composed entirely of one food type including all yellow
jackets, all berries, all animal products or all acorns?
= Bear?

64. List two mast (nut producing) trees of your area.
= We don’t have any nut-producing trees here; no “mast” happens. The whitebark pine up in the mountains produce pinecones with pinenuts that bears depend on, but the pines are in severe decline.

65. List four types of edible berries of your area.
a) chokecherries
b) currants
c) strawberries
d) huckleberries

66. If there were no sun shining (cloudy sky) and you needed to
walk in a straight line for several hundred yards through a thicket,
how would you do it? List three ways.
a) The right stride tends to be longer than the left, so overcompensate with the left
b) Look straight ahead as far as you can and straight back, and keep looking back and forth as you move to keep moving in a straight line
c) ?

67. Describe three methods that you can use to find your way
back through trackless wilderness in a situation where there is no
snow or sand and where tracking is difficult (such as through a
forest)—in other words, back tracking is not an option.
a) Follow drainages downslope
b) North star
c) Using the sun stick

68. Where in the sky is the sun at noon?
= Overhead, but depending on time of year, more to the south (winter) or more overhead (summer)

69. In the summer, the sun rises __North__ (North, East,
South, or West) of __East__ (North, East, South, or West).

70. The most reliable part of an herb to be studied as far as identification
is concerned is which structure or part?
= The flower

71. What is a compound leaf? (Draw one.)
= One petiole, several leaflets often confused for leaves

72. What is an irregular flower? (Draw one.)
= I forget

73. Name two ways you can be sure you are looking at a leaf on
a tree and not a leaflet.
a) Look for the petiole
b) Look underneath the tree for fallen leaves, as leaves fall whole at the detached petiole

74. Draw a simple map below and simply place a check mark next
to the letter if you have completed that task as indicated by the
instructions and letters below.

If you were flying above your neighborhood at the altitude of a
high-flying hawk, could you easily map out the waterways (a.),
the forests (b.), the thickets (c.) and the other features of your
neighborhood for a one mile radius (d. indicate the four directions)?
a) x
b) x
c) x
d) x
= Not going to draw a map right now, but I know where these features are within a one mile radius.

75. Name five plants that are extremely common in your area:
a) dandelion
b) box elder
c) lilac
d) lodgepole pine
e) knapweed

76. How did the native people ensure that there would be enough
plants for medicines, crafts and other uses of herbs, in their area?
= Burning, although here lightning-caused forest fires were very common (still are) so I don’t think they did it here as much as elsewhere in the U.S.

77. Why did the forests flourish as result of the interaction of the
people and the land?
= Not sure what they are getting at here; the forests here didn’t flourish that I can tell

78. Name four non-flowering more primitive plants of your area.
a) horsetail
b) moss
c) lichen
d) algae

79. What was the indigenous culture of your area?
= There were several ancient indigenous cultures. Archaeologically they were the Paleoindians (Early Prehistoric), the Archaic period (covers part of Early and Middle Prehistoric Periods), and the Late Prehistoric Period, before the Historic Period. The Historic Period tribes that were in this place were the Salish (the earliest named tribe here), the Shoshoni, and the Blackfeet. Later on the Chippewa-Cree came in during the European settlement period.

80. What was their primary staple food in winter?
= Meat from buffalo, elk, deer; supplemented by dried bitterroot and camas.

81. What was their primary staple food in the autumn?
= Same on the meat, except berries in the fall.

81. What was the most important food in the summer?
= Same; Summer was the season to dig and roast bitterroot and camas

82. Did they migrate?
= Yes, during the buffalo hunts

82. From where to where?
= From/through this area to over near Great Falls and the plains beyond

83. What time of year is the time of most rapid plant growth?
= Spring and early summer

84. What is the time of year where plants add wood to their structures?
= Fall?

85. What key animal and/or plant species are missing today from
your local forests (name three)?
= We pretty much still have all the key animal species here, although in much fewer numbers; only the buffalo is missing. Frogs also seem to have declined since my childhood.
As far as plants, it’s pretty much the same picture, all still here but some are very much threatened, especially those depending on the valley habitats that human beings have changed the most.

86. Describe second growth forest.
= It kind of depends on whether the primary growth (old growth) forest was done away with through human action (logging) or natural action (forest fire). In either case, the trees are smaller, and usually of a different species. I don’t know of any old growth (primary growth) forests around here.

87. What in an aquifer is the recharge zone? Describe it.
= I think it’s the area where the most water (rain, snow) falls and has the opportunity to not run off but soaks in and gradually adds to the aquifer?

88. What does an established river otter population indicate about
an ecosystem?
= I would think the area is diverse and healthy, so that the food pyramid in the water supports enough fish to support the otter, as well as low pollution and a lot of native vegetation remains; water is fast and pure.

89. What does the presence of many frogs indicate about an
ecosystem?
= Same as above I think; water is slow, slow change in environment

90. What does the presence of many kinds of vines and thorns
indicate in a forest?
= Stress on the vegetation, such as overgrazing, by either livestock or too many deer

91. Name local ecosystems of at least six types.
a) Alpine
b) Subalpine
c) Montane
d) Mountain meadow
e) Riparian
f) Plains grasslands

92. Where in your area can you:
a) find sand?
b) clay soil?
c) really rich soil?
= Sand: In the valley, where the sand and gravel operations are going on; Clay: Certain places along creeks (I used to know some specific areas but no longer); really rich soil along creek benches.

93. What is the first type of tree to move into a newly cleared area
(name two)?
a) lodgepole pine
b) douglas fir

94. What is the most common soaring hawk of your area?
= redtail hawk; this is the type I’ve seen most often here

All animals have certain strategies which they follow. Their bodies
and behaviors are a reflection of this. For instance, a house cat has
large eyes, as that is the dominant sense, and therefore its strategy
is to walk slowly, and to look around often during a short
pause. Considering that, answer the following questions:
95. Coyote:
a) What is the dominant sense of a coyote? = Hearing, and smell
b) What is its hunting strategy? = Listen for prey under snow, then leap on it, as an example
c) How does this strategy influence a coyote’s choice of trails? = Interesting question, never thought about it

96. Weasel:
a) What is the dominant sense of a weasel? = Sight?
b) What is its hunting strategy? = Look for prey
c) A weasel has a concern that a coyote does not, which greatly
affects its behavior. What is this concern? = worry that a flying predator might get it
d) How does this affect a weasel’s behavior? = hangs out in heavy brush

97. Deer:
a) What is the dominant sense of a deer? Hearing, then sight
b) What is its feeding strategy? Browse, stop and listen and look, then browse again

98. What is the activity strategy of a typical, suburban house dog?
= Smell around for something interesting, then follow the scent

99. Where are the descendants of the native people who once
inhabited the area located today (What states or reservations primarily)?
= The Salish are on the Flathead Reservation up by Ronan, the Blackfeet are on their reservation up by Glacier Park, and the Shoshoni are mostly down on Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho

100. Describe the difference in forest cover between a North slope
and a South slope in natural-timbered areas. What species really
gets more numerous on the north side?
= Different species of trees – the cold-tolerant species like spruce and fir are more common on the north slope, but it also depends just as much here on the altitude

101. What herbs grow in the winter on southern exposures in local
parks, yards and roadsides (name three)?
= I haven’t looked – good question

102. Draw a fast and effective shelter for emergencies (label materials
in a cut away view showing some detail of structure, insulation
and other important aspects of practical shelter building).
= Not going to do this here as it’s a hassle to do and post a quick drawing; main thing is a shell to protect from rain and wind, and then an insulating layer inside

103. What tinder works fastest in your area under:
a) dry conditions? = Grasses, pine needles, pine sap, twigs
b) wet conditions? = Pine sap and maybe twigs on drier part of the tree

104. What trees in your area have opposite branching with compound
leaves (name two)?
= None that I can think of, off the top of my head. We have few hardwoods and mostly conifers here.

105. What are the most common native trees in your area growing
in wetlands (name two)?
a) alder
b) willow

106. Name three more shrubs not mentioned in the previous questions
that are common in your area.
a) mountain mahogany
b) wild rose
c) buckbrush

107. What is a common creekside plant in your area?
= willow

108. What are three native grasses of the area?
a) buffalo grass
b) fescue
c) wheatgrass

109. Name four plants which are used for making baskets in the
area.
a) pine needles
b) willow
c) ?
d) ?

110. Name three plants good for making cordage in the area.
a) ninebark
b) cottonwood inner bark
c) nettle

111. What wood in the area makes good bows (name two)?
a) mountain mahogany
b) ?

112. What wood in the area is good for arrows?
= ?

113. What wood is really hard in your area (name two)?
= None; even the “hardwoods” are soft, like box elder or mountain maple

114. Which are the hottest burning woods (name two)?
a) pine
b) ?

115. Which tree grows really fast?
= cottonwood

116. Which tree grows really slow?
= Whitebark pine or subalpine fir perhaps

117. Name five animals that can be physically or strategically imitated
in your area which would help you in a survival situation.
Give the behavior you would mimic from each next to the animal’s
name.
a) bear – general habits, looking for berries and roots, living in cave
b) deer – watching and listening, bedding down in bad weather, move in dusk/dawn
c) wolf – pack for hunting and defense of territory, raising young
d) wild cats, hawks – get good vantage point for observation of surrounding area
e) squirrel – nest building for warmth

118. Name one type of call (a sound emitted by wildlife) that
affects many species of birds or animals.
= Jay or flicker warning cry

119. Name two kinds of insects which call in your area.
a) crickets
b) grasshoppers (clacking sound)

120. What common bird in your area has a crest on its head?
= gray jay in hills; in town, cedar waxwing

121. What common bird of your area has a white eye-ring?
= Not sure

122. What common bird of your area has white wing bars?
= mallard duck

123. What common bird of your area feeds on the ground and has
white in its tail feathers?
= not sure

124. What common bird of your area lives in thickets and will not
usually be seen in tree tops?
= forget the name (creeper? Kinglet?), a small bird hard to see

125. What common bird of your area loves the tree tops?
= red tailed hawk

126. What are five really common birds in your area that you
haven’t named yet?
a) junco
b) common sparrow
c) chickadee
d) robin
e) meadowlark

127. Name two kinds of common woodpeckers in your area.
a) flicker
b) ?

128. Name two birds that will tell on a stalking hunter or animal
in your area.
a) magpie
b) gray jay

129. Name a bird that will tell of the presence of a large soaring
hawk or owl by mobbing the predatory bird.
= Crow

130. What is the most common snake in your area?
= watersnake (don’t know the scientific name)

131. What is a common turtle of the water in your area?
= turtles are not common here; there is a water turtle I’ve seen but don’t know the name

132. What is the first frog, toad or treefrog chorus to sing in your
area in spring?
= I never hear any here

133. What is a common salamander in your area?
= No idea

"TOURIST TEST REFLECTION: After you finish all four levels of the Kamana program, we will ask you to go back and take the test again so you can compare the differences. Take a few minutes to reflect on your experience before writing.”

My own reaction?

They don’t give a key for the “right answers.” That’s just as well, because when you do this test, it gives you an idea of where you might start improving your knowledge. I was spotty overall, but according to this test and how I felt about it and where I struggled most, tracking is probably my weakest area right now overall.

I certainly learned a lot about what I -need- to learn!

So what can I learn about where to start? I guess I should start with improving my understanding of tracking and how it interacts with the ground conditions. So I’ll be digging through some websites and books to begin with, to see how to learn and what resources for tracking there are. I’ll also be taking a walk later today to see what I can see in the way of tracks and animal sign in the neighborhood. I’ll look at the condition of the snow too. It’s sunny and cold, like yesterday. I might see only human tracks, dog or cat. But that’s all part of the picture too, right?

How about you?… maybe you could pick one or two of the questions that interested you most. Perhaps you ran into a question whose answer that you didn’t know, but that you thought you did know or should know. That’s my challenge to anyone who reads this. Even if you don’t take the whole “Tourist Test,” pick ONE of the questions that interested you most, and find out the answer. And if you are having a hard time, let me know and maybe I can help you find the answer, because that’s how I learn too!

Archaeology's Lessons

What are some of the things that all civilizations that crash have in common?

Overuse of natural resources is a big one, whether because of overpopulation or waste or having some grand ideas that are held to be more important than living in balance.

Overpopulation... yep, we are there...
Waste...yep
Grand ideas, ideologies, that are more important than living in balance... yep

When I teach archaeology, people are always asking why all those other countries had these great civilizations, the Maya, the Egyptians...and so on... yet Montana did not

Success is thought of as "progress" (whatever "progress" is...if you end up destroying yourselves, is it really "progress"?)

Up until the introduction of the horse in about AD 1650-1700, Montana's Indians lived mostly the same way, hunting and gathering, through different climate changes, changing only the species they focused on hunting or gathering. Certainly there were times they starved in the late winter and early spring. Yet Montana Indians lived pretty much the same way of life for over 11,000 years.

That's a different kind of "success" I'd say.

The Little People and the Giants in Western Montana

An extract from The Flathead Indians of Montana, by Harry Holbert Turney-High. Memoirs of the American Anthropological Association. Contributions from Montana State University [now the University of Montana, Missoula, MT]. Number 48, 1937. Supplement to American Anthropologist, Volume 39, No. 4, Part 3.

(p. 13)

II. PREDECESSORS

Because they preceded the Flathead into these mountain valleys the Kalispel maintain that they are the true lords of the land, although they do not have the temerity to claim to be the original autochthonous inhabitants. They admit that when they themselves came from a land far to the west they found the country occupied by other peoples, some possessing great supernatural powers, others who had great strength and intelligence but were nevertheless classifiable as human rather than superhuman. In addition to these there was a race of just plain Indians, stupid, ignorant, and inferior. In all of these points the Kalispel and Flathead agree. Then, of course, there were the traditional pre-Flathead tribes who have been discussed elsewhere.

DWARFS AND GIANTS

The true autochthonous inhabitants of the country were a race of dwarfs, persons who look very much like Indians except for their very dark skins and their diminutive stature of about two feet and one-half to three feet. The Little People were not originally a supernatural race, but were tiny Indians who had remarkable powers. The dwarfs had every element of material culture which the Indians ever knew or have discovered so far, for they had every element of white civilization. They owned herds of domestic animals which measured about three feet high. The grandparents of the oldest Indians insist that these were a type of horse, very tiny and invariably a glistening black. When the dwarfs disappeared from ordinary life their "horses" disappeared with them, so that regular Indians never knew that animal until it was acquired from the Mountain Snakes [Shoshoni]. The dwarfs did not ride these animals nor burden them with packs. “They just kept them around.” When food ran short during the winters, however, the dwarfs butchered these “horses”and ate them.

With the coming of humans in the ordinary sense the dwarfs were crowded into the highest mountains. Some think that they died out completely from life as people live it. They are thought to sleep in old volcanic craters during the day, or rather they are thought to be actually dead during the daylight hours, to arise at night to carouse and dance. During the ages of this kind of rest they have acquired an enormous amount of “medicine.” The Indian or shaman who acquires a dwarf for a personal guardian is unusually fortunate, and to this day the old craters are favorite places of retirement when a guardian is sought. Flathead were very careful to speak respectfully of these original inhabitants of the land.

The second fabulous race which preceded the Indians was the giants. Fully half of the Flathead stories deal with these giants and easily two-

(p. 14)

thirds mention them. They bad terrific strength; could twist off the neck a powerful warrior without effort. Thev could do many things which ordinary people could not do, but this was attributed to their remarkable skill and unusual intelligence, rather than to any magic power they might have possessed. They wore no clothes but had heavy coats of fur.

The relations of Indians and giants was largely one of indifference and mutual avoidance. At times the giants would elect to be friendly, willingly coming to the aid of Flathead who might need them. One informant tells of a woman who was consistently abused by her husband. One time he beat her so badly that she was bruised all over and many of her bones broken. She was left lying on the grass in great pain, unable to move, and well-nigh dying. A giant came by and offered his sympathy and help. It is said that the giants were remarkably adept in medicine, so that when the woman's husband returned a few days later the wife was entirely well. The kindly giant remained to give him a severe reprimand, then departed. It must be noted that this cure was due to the giant's great intelligence and skill as a leech [medic]. It is denied that they had supernatural curative power or “medicine.”

Giants sometimes interfered with the affairs of men in a most unfriendly manner. Sometimes they would dash from behind a tree and laughingly mash a human just to exhibit their strength. “They were taller than the roof of this house,” said one informant, “and they were strong even for their size. Once a man was thrown clear over Mt. Sentinel from Pattee Canyon into the Missoula River on the other side by a giant who just wanted to show off.”

On the other hand Indians were not above playing spiteful tricks on the giants, although their efforts usually failed. Once a small hunting party came upon a giant sound asleep in the woods. The hunters decided to capture him, and taking all of their bison hair ropes, made him fast with the strongest knots. Then all the men sat on the giant's chest and beat him with bows until he awakened. The captive, seeing his predicament, emitted a thunderous laugh, burst his bonds, and sent his opponents flying through the air by his violent rise to his feet. Piqued by his treatment he grabbed one of the Salish by the ankle and, swinging him thereby, tossed him clear across the Missoula River so that be hit against the face of a cliff not far from Forest Grove, which forthwith killed him.

The greatest of all the giants was a more or less kindly disposed fellow named Papagelpels’ cin, "Light-from-smooth-horns." At least this is what the giant called himself when questioned by people. He was the largest and most intelligent giant of them all.

The human character of the giants is exhibited by the fact that, despite their strength and intelligence, they knew hunger, maiming, and death.

(p. 15)

Both the giants and the dwarfs were perfectly visible to the human eye, but since they were shy and very clever about avoiding people they were seldom seen. There was a race of invisible beings, skusku' caske, who were mightily feared. While the dwarfs, as will be seen later, had all the material culture known to the white man and many valuable traits besides, the giants lived by hunting just like Indians. They were superior hunters because they were strong and “smart,”not because of better equipment.

Like the Little People, the giants are definitely thought to have been pre-Salishan inhabitants. They spoke a gibberish not understood by the Salish, although some giants could speak Salishan when they chose. It is thought that their numbers gradually diminished because of competition with the Indians. “We just got them outnumbered in time,” one informant said, “so that there wasn't enough game around for them, as they were so big.” The complete extinction of giants is thought to have been of recent date. One Kalispel reputed to be over ninety claims to have seen one. Her father was Chief Alexander who negotiated the first treaty with the white government. Because of white inspiration he tried farming, and in consequence had a small barn with a hay loft. The informant says that when she was a very small girl a man over fifteen feet high came to the house one night when all the men were away and asked for food. He was so hungry he ate everything they had, and with permission slept in the hay-mow. When morning came the frightened women went to hunt for him with food, but he had gone. She says that she remembers distinctly that the giant wore grass sandals. [italics in original]

Pretty Shield and The-Alligator-Lodge

thought
"Thought," (c) 2010, watercolor by Lance Foster

"Before I came on this world, and even for a time afterward, my people saw strange things. heard words spoken that they did not always understand," she said, so softly that Goes-together leaned to listen. "Now they see nothing, hear nothing that is strange," she went on, a little louder. And then, as though she had decided some question within herself, she moved her chair nearer the table, and looked into my eyes. "I once had a vision, Sign-talker, but you had better not write it down," she advised.

"It came to me soon after I got this scar on my forehead. I was about eight years old. The moon was the one that ripens the berries, and our village, a large one with more lodges than I could count, was at the mouth of Deer creek. There is a place there where the water whips the bank, as though angry. Beneath the water just there, one may see a black hole, with the white water sucking into it. We call this place The-alligator's-lodge. If one were to be sucked into this black hole he would never come out again; no, never."

Crow story tellers, although a plains people, frequently mention the alligator, and even sea-monsters, leading me to believe that the tribe at one time lived in the South, by the sea.

"On this day, just when I wanted badly to go with some young women to pick berries, an old woman who had nobody to help her, asked me to bring her a kettle of water. Taking her kettle I ran to Deer creek that was but a little way from the lodges, hoping yet to catch up with the young women who had already started for the berry patches.

"When I reached the creek, that was not far from the lodges, I saw three naked women sitting on the bank above The-alligator's-lodge, that black hole that sucks in the white water. They were young, and had unbraided their hair, so that it hung loosely about their shoulders. They were strangers to me. I wondered if they knew that the black hole was there. I called out to warn them.

"Instantly the three women slid down the bank, like turtles, into the white water, and were sucked into The-alligator's-lodge. They were gone! It was as though they had never been on the bank at all.

"Frightened now, I bent to dip the old woman's kettle into the water at the place where we always got our water from Deer creek. But I did not dip it. The water that had always been deep there was now shallow. And" --here Pretty-shield stood up, her hand on the table-- "on the bottom, on the little stones, I saw a woman looking up at me. She was not a Crow woman, not like any woman that I had ever seen. She was a Person [sprite]. Her hair was yellow, her eyes blue, and her ears were long and notched.

"I screamed; but remember nothing more, except that when I wakened I was in my mother's lodge, with my face painted red [death paint]. I have never been near The-alligator's-lodge since that day," she finished, sitting down.

"Ahhh, you have written down my words," she said, reproachfully. "If you put them into a book nobody who can read will believe them; and yet they tell only the truth.

"There are times in our lives when we see strange things, hear words that we do not understand..."

(Pretty Shield: Medicine Woman of the Crows (1932), by Frank Bird Linderman, pp. 126-128)

waterman
"Water Man," (c) ca. 1983, pastel by Lance Foster

Seeking the Old Ways

For me, the origins of all these ways was living on and off the land, what you
could hunt and what you could gather. Later on, what animals you could raise and
what plants you could grow and harvest. And in most places, a combination of
these things.

To be frank, I don't think many of the common people in my own experience
concerned themselves much with the solstice and equinox times. They did depend
on the moon and its phases, and the winds, and the weather and seasons, for
hunting and planting.

Most of us today don't farm or hunt for a living. We work for wages, often live
in cities, and are more distanced from the land in our day to day lives. We have
to try and remember they were people who made their living from the land.

Anything magical and mystical was not just an intellectual exercise, it
supported their daily needs, to keep cows in milk, defend against crop-damaging
storms, keep the invisible world in check. For many of the common people, the
gods were less important than good relations with the spirits in the land or the
spirits of the animals they hunted. And defense from those people or spirits who were malicious.

Some folks look to the European wheel of the year, the solstices and equinoxes, Beltane, Imbolc,
Lammas and Samhain. But the European-based wheel, except for solstice/equinox,
doesn't match either our weather patterns or our resources, so I don't follow it.
Those European traditions came from their land anyways.
One should look to the one's own land and its rhythms first.

For foods, one can learn from the original Indian tribes from your area, which,
here in Montana, depended mostly on meat year round. Of course the buffalo aren't
running around anymore, and there were way less than 400,000 Indians depending
on the game back then too. Up here in Montana, we are going through a population
crash of deer and elk and unless you have access to private land
(ranches, etc.) or have expensive off-road vehicles, hunting just isn't worth it
right now. The old days when I was a kid of driving out in the hills, walking
and stalking, and getting your game, are over. All the old guys I know aren't
even getting their licenses this year.

The Indians did gather some plants in season, like greens early in the spring
(too bitter now) and berries especially this time of year (currants,
chokecherry, serviceberries) and pounded the berries with dried meat to store as
pemmican. Tribes up this way didn't fish much, they really only wanted red meat.

So the next thing is learning what the oldtimer Euroamerican settlers planted
and depended on, which in this area, weren't so much grains (winter wheat here),
but spuds (potato), beets, cabbages, squash, peas, and onions. Those were the
staples. Stored in a root cellar and/or canned, along with whatever tomatoes or
garden produce the grasshoppers didn't get. And of course they depended a great
deal on imported flour, dried beans, sides of bacon, etc. People have to
remember, there weren't the varied foods and fancy cooking back then as there is
now.

Yes, they planted apple and crabapple trees, but it took a while to get them
going, and deer eat them. But other fruit and nut trees don't grow very well in
most of Montana, although the Flathead Lake area is a microclimate where
cherries do very well. Another plant they imported from Europe that mark many old homesteads
where the houses are long gone is the lilac bush.

Medicine Wheel Project

‎2012 MedicineWheel Project slated for February 7th & 8th
sponsored by Helena Public Schools Indian Education for All and the Montana Historical Society
by Jan Jamruszka-Wilson, Indian Education Coordinator

Over 600 CHS, HHS and PAL American Government students are expected to attend the sixth annual 2012 Medicine Wheel Project on February 7th and 8th at the Montana Historical Society and the Capitol. The Medicine Wheel Project is a partnership between the Helena Public Schools Indian Education for All Program and the Montana Historical Society.

Traditionally, medicine wheels were constructed by laying stones in a circular pattern on the ground. Spokes radiating from the center divided the circle into segments. The wheels were used for various astronomical, ritual, healing, and teaching purposes and they are still used today in Native culture. Medicine wheels are believed to create a roadmap to sacred space and to provide guidance in making choices throughout one’s life.

Helena’s Medicine Wheel Project similarly uses the Medicine Wheel as a modern-day metaphor to further the understanding of Montana Indian Tribes by 12th grade students in the Helena Public Schools, as intended when the 1999 Montana Legislature passed the Indian Education for All act into law. This action re-energized the legislative implementation of Article X of the Montana Constitution that has been in place since 1972. The Legislature recognized that the history of Montana and the current problems of the state cannot be adequately understood and the problems cannot be addressed unless both Indians and non-Indians have an understanding of the history, culture, and contemporary contributions of Montana’s Indian people.

During the Medicine Wheel Project, the students participate in sessions relating to traditional and contemporary aspects of Montana Indian culture and the interface with Montana and U.S. Government policies. Representatives of Montana Indian tribes will present on topics such as: Sovereignty and Modern Tribal Governance since the 1970s; Stereotypes of Indians in Society; Reservation Land Ownership and Eloise Cobell; Hunting and Fishing Regulations on the Reservations; Indian Boarding Schools; Planting Seeds of Hope – Suicide Prevention; and, the Protection of Sacred Sites. Other sessions will address Blood Quantum; the Role of the Buffalo in Traditional and Contemporary Times; Traditional Uses of Plants; the Changing Roles of Indian Men and Women; and, Ledger Art.

HSD#1 American Government teachers develop classroom activities related to the Medicine Wheel Project topics that take place both before and after the event so that students can explore and increase the relevance of their learning about Montana Indian heritage in their lives. Helena School District Indian Education Coordinators and the high school administrative teams support the teachers as they research and prepare lessons to involve their students in the Medicine Wheel Project. The Medicine Wheel Project is a significant learning event about Montana Indian history and culture for high school seniors.

I will be teaching 12 half-hour classes of these high school students next week at the Montana State Capitol; my topic: "Protection of Sacred Sites and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)." After I am done, I will post something here about it.

Post-Peak Oil Helena, a Short and a Long view

I could do without TV ok as long as I have the Internet. No TV or Internet would be tough. I am a Philistine. I like TV. I enjoy it. I like seeing what is happening all over the world. I could do without it, because I have, but I like it.

Now not having a car out here in Montana. Well, here in Helena there really isn't any public transportation. Not that people don't try. We just don't have the population density (although when the town started, we had streetcars on two routes!) We have a dial-a-ride minimum capacity bus that mainly moves around the elderly and the disabled. If you are patient and have a few days to spare to work out arrangements with them, you can get to most places you want to go within the city limits of this very small city.

Some younger and some older and fitter folks are bicycle enthusiasts, both city and trail, though we usually have a couple accidents every month and a death or two every year from collisions with autos and trucks. Of course most of those same folks use autos to go to the store or if they want to get out of the town limits or during the really cold icy times of the year. It's at least 90 miles over mountain highways to get to the next sizeable town, and if you want to go in between, say to a friend's or your ranch, you are SOL.

There's no passenger rail service. You would have to ride a Greyhound-type bus service that runs once a day from Helena to Great Falls (last I checked anyways) then wait a couple hours, then bus up to Big Sandy where the Amtrak connects Chicago and Seattle, and wait a few hours there too, if you want to see the wider world.

If you live outside city limits, including the valley where the city is located, or you are going hunting or fishing, well, most places hereabouts you can't get to without a car, unless you have a string of pack animals and a few weeks to spare.

As time goes on, and the economics and fuel changes, I speculate on what will happen around here.

-Some people will consolidate closer and within town. Property values within town, a 6 or so mile radius, will go up. Bicycles will be joined by tricycles and cargo-cycles. There is a business opportunity there for deep pockets and long range vision. They might even get streetcars going again, either pulled by horses (we had lots of horse and buggy rentals here 100 years ago) or run by electric power from the dams about 25 miles away. Downtown Helena, having a hard time finding tenants, will revive.

-People far away on ranches, 20 miles or more away, will return to living most their life on ranches, herding their livestock to the railheads. Only going into town on urgent business or to get supplies every month or two by wagon or pulling a tarp off an old pickup using ethanol they distilled themselves on rutted trails. The rich folk and celebrities who don't really ranch but just hire others to ranch for them and play rancher, they will have to make up their minds to get real, or go home to the cities they came from (if there is any decent place to return to). Their UPS and Fed-Ex vans driving 60 miles round trip to bring them their luxury goods will stop coming.

-The people in between the city limits and the ranches, they also will have to make up their minds. Some will migrate into town and scuffle with everyone else over living space. Some will go to outlying ranches if they have that sort of individual temperament. There will be a lot of empty houses in this "no-man's land" of suburbia, some becoming shelters for the very poor or those with no options, some becoming cattlesheds or storage barns, and that no-man's land that is irrigable and has suitable soil (not a lot of it is, though most can be some kind of haying country) could become farms, gardens, orchards. Of course the water table is lower now, and the weather more chaotic, and the snowpack undependable (and will get more so). The far-sighted should look at crops being grown in the southwest areas, and start experimenting and developing local hybrids.

But before we get there, there will be a lot of social chaos and stresses, violence and drugs of choice, in periods/cycles of readjustment over the next 20-50 years. Some will only relinquish TV and fast food and cars under the same condition as we would relinquish our guns...when you pry them from our cold dead hands. Migrants will come and others will go. And life will go on in some form or fashion. Looking even further down the road, a hundred or more years away, I think the Rocky Mountain states will eventually end up in some form of nomadic pastoralism like in Mongolia or Afghanistan, because that is the kind of country we have, high dry and cold. Of course climate is hard to predict, through nomadic pastoralism is a time-honored way of making a living from a hard-bitten land.

But if the caldera under Yellowstone goes, all bets are off of course :-)

"CRAC!"



A fantastic animated film about the Canadian Metis (halfbreed French-Indian) culture, about a man who makes a rocking chair, and his family and community and the land...great art, music, culture! Some of my ancestors on my grandmother's side. Many of these folks lived in Montana as well, and were part of the Riel Rebellion. My own family though was in the Mississippi and lower Missouri River Valley.

Montana Arachnids (Spiders and Allies) - Part 1 (Spiders)

I put together some info on insects in Montana a few posts ago, so now I am tackling spiders and other arachnids. As with insects, there is no comprehensive source on Montana spiders, so I had to collate materials from the internet and books. The sources are found at the bottom of this post.

Following are some of the most common types of spiders found in Montana.

Taxonomy:
Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Arthropoda, Class Arachnida, Order Araneae (Spiders)

Class Arachnida – 8 legs not 6. Two body parts, cephalothorax and abdomen, not three (insects have head, thorax, abdomen). Includes spiders, mites and ticks, scorpions, daddy-long-legs (they are not spiders), windscorpions, whipscorpions.

Order Araneae – Spiders (over 3000 species in North America)
Although many spider bites can be painful or annoying, The only truly poisonous spiders in Montana are the two black widow species (both very docile and non–aggressive unless the female is protecting the egg sac), and the aggressive house spider, also known as the Hobo Spider, a nonnative. The brown recluse and yellow-sac spider have not been found in Montana contrary to popular belief, according to the most reliable sources.

Following are the families of spiders that are represented in Montana, in alphabetical order by family.

Family Araneidae - Orb-weavers / Garden Spiders

Probably the most impressive spider we saw as kids were the giant corpulent spiders hanging in their webs stretched between branches or fences: the spiders we called “Cookie Spiders.” We called these “Cookie Spiders” growing up…because some seemed as big and decorated as a cookie. As kids often do, we’d squash them and an incredible amount of juice splurted out. Now I know better, that the orb-weavers or common garden spiders are our allies and friends in our struggle with the garden pests, and I feel bad about it. “Legs rather stout and spiny. All eight eyes small, sub-equal, and seemingly grouped into pairs. Web is an orb with a closed hub. Their retreat is often away from the web....Orb weavers (Araneidae) are often brightly coloured with rounded abdomens, some with peculiarly angled humps or spines. However, there is considerable variation in size, colour and shape in this group. They are easily recognized because of their beautiful, large, round webs, on which they rest, head downward, waiting for prey. The webs consist of a number of radiating threads crossed by two spirals. The inner spiral begins in the centre, winds outward, and is made of smooth threads like the radiating threads. It covers only the central 1/3 of the web. The outer spiral begins at the edges and winds inward. It is made of more elastic, sticky threads, coated with a liquid substance. …” ...“Garden Orb Weavers are NOT dangerous (but can bite as can most spiders) and rid your garden of many unwanted insects. They only live for one season and die off as Winter approaches, leaving their egg sacs behind to hatch out next Spring.”

Examples: Araneus spp. - Garden or Cross Spider (Araneus diadematus), Marbled Orb Weaver (Araneus marmoreus), Shamrock Spider (Araneus trifolium) (lots of webs covered with dew at sunrise), Araneus spp. prefer to build their webs among tall grasses and shrubbery. Large bulbous abdomen and legs often ringed. Web a spiraling orb, spider usually hangs downward near center of web, or nearby resting site connected by signal line that lets it know when a struggling insect on web. Each night web taken down and replaced. If I recall correctly, Charlotte (of Charlotte's Web) was a Barn spider (Araneus cavaticus), which prefers shady locations. Shamrock orb-weaver. Mountains of sw Montana. “Shamrock or Pumpkin Spiders as they are called in different places scientific name is Araneus trifolium. A. trifolium is a spider which builds an orb-web and is classified in a group of spiders called orb-weaver spider. Colour is a characteristic that may help to identify a spider. A. trifolium is orange (though it may show up in a yellowish green or purplish form). Its large, bulbous abdomen is similar to a pumpkin. Measuring a spider's length also helps in its identification. A. trifolium is large, compared to other spiders. Size is an important way of distinguishing one spider from another. The abdomen also contains the stomach or crop. In the fall the abdomen and the entire spider grows quickly. The high vegetation the spider prefers produces an abundance of insect food; and in the fall there is a growth spurt when food is most plentiful. This sudden increase in size may be cause for the spider's "sudden" appearance. In fact, the spiders have been present all-year, but were much smaller and simply less noticeable. The spider tends to show up around Halloween - and that is how it got its common name "Pumpkin Spider."” (http://www.spiderzrule.com/shamrock.htm)

Other orb-weavers: Araniella spp., Argiope spp., etc. Examples: Laurel Montana. 2006. Orb web on backyard playhouse. “The largest and most striking of the orb weaving spiders is the banded Argiope spider (Argiope trifasciata). It is found in late summer and early fall among shrubbery and in gardens where they make a highly symmetrical orb web. Females are generally silvery, with dark and yellow striping. Males are rarely observed and are much smaller than the females. The banded garden spider is harmless.” (http://www.spiderzrule.com/banded06.htm). Another banded argiope from se Montana, dry, tall grasses, sagebrush, prickly pear. Legs striped brown and yellow, about size of nickel. (http://www.spiderzrule.com/banded.htm).


Family Agelenidae - Funnel web weaver spiders

“Spinnerets long, two segmented, and conspicuous. Eyes small, sub-equal, and arranged in two relatively short rows. Web is sheet or platform-like with a tubular retreat leading off from the center or one edge.” Spin sheets of nonadhesive silk. Funnel off to one side as hiding place. Above is 3-d barrier web- when flying insect hits web, it falls down on sheet, spider rushes out and drags it back to funnel where it eats. Grass spiders (Agelenopsis spp.) etc. (http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/fp.php?pid=8060106#b)

The most infamous member of this family in Montana is the Hobo Spider or Aggressive House Spider (Tegenaria agrestis) aka (Agelenidae tegenaria-agrestis) “Swift-running spider distinguished from non-poisonous funnel web spiders by chevron shape on its abdomen and legs which are not banded like other funnel web spiders.” Nonnative, the hobo spiders are from Europe, but were first seen in Seattle in the 1930s, and have slowly been spreading eastward. I never saw any growing up in the 1960s or 1970s, but they had spread into western Montana by the 1980s. Hobo spiders had not made it to eastern Montana as of 2008, but they are in Montana. (http://pep.wsu.edu/pdf/PLS116_1.pdf) 

Family Dictynidae - Dictynid Spiders

Dictyna major and Dictyna coloradensis - light gray with a dark stripe down their backs. Webs often light upside down pyramid. Many invasive plants have provided more places for these native spiders to nest, ex. Sulfur cinquefoil, spotted knapweed, leafy spurge. (http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.html?programID=11-P13-00039&segmentID=6)

(NOT IN MONTANA) Family Loxoscelidae – Violin / Recluse Spiders

I am only listing this spider here because so many people falsely believe there are brown recluse spiders here in Montana. “Distinctive violin-shaped marking on the cephalothorax. The six eyes are arranged in three pairs forming a semicircle.” They do not spin webs. Violin Spider aka Brown Recluse Spider (Loxosceles reclusa) Not in Montana.

Family Lycosidae – Wolf Spiders

“Eyes arranged in three rows with four large eyes on top and front of head and anterior, slightly curved row of four small eyes. Females carry the globular egg sac attached by the spinnerets. The fourth pair of legs is the longest and frequently held stretched out behind the spider.” These spiders do not use webs. They are some of the largest spiders in Montana and run around after their prey, using their speed and visual acuity, moving into houses in the fall. Most live on ground and hunt at night. Only one group spins web (Pardosa spp.), others live under rocks or holes in ground. Burrowing Wolf Spiders (Geolycosa spp.) - The one that pretty much stays in its burrow and only runs out to kill; hides in burrow if senses vibrations like someone walking. There are many species of running wolf spiders (Lycosa spp.)

Family Oxyopidae – Lynx Spiders

Little spiders that hide and wait with front legs often raised and jump in fields with tall grass and herbaceous plants, but do not make webs or retreats. Mostly tropical but at least one common type in the Rockies, the Jumping Lynx Spider (Oxyopes spp.)

Family Pisauridae – Nursery Web Spiders

Include fishing spiders that run across water, swim, etc. In Montana there is the Six-spotted Fishin Spider (Dolomedes triton) in slow-flowing streams and ponds, where it will go after aquatic insects, or even small fish and tadpoles; found scampering over waterside plants.

Family Salticidae - Jumping Spiders


I have a fondness for these little guys. Square-fronted cephalothorax bearing four very large anterior eyes. Legs usually short and stout with the first pair sometimes enlarged. Diurnal. They do not use webs, but run around, and jump, using their speed and visual acuity to capture prey. They are small, but their little faces often look as though they see you or are looking back at you, before they spring quickly to their next location. “Jumping spiders and wolf spiders have two eyes much larger than the other six, probably an adaptation to help them better see their prey. Jumping spiders are small to medium sized spiders, usually stout bodied, short legged and hairy. They frequently have contrasting black, reddish, or yellowish markings. They are very agile, pouncing and feeding on small insects about the home. They are often seen on screens or near doors or windows.”
The most common jumping spiders in Montana are probably the Metaphid Jumping Spiders (Metaphidippus spp.) which are gray and brown, and are more common among plants, and the Daring Jumping Spiders (Phidippus audax) which are black with a gray/white crossband and are often seen hunting in the house, along the windowsills and sashes.

Family Sparassidae (formerly Heteropodidae) - Huntsman Spiders (nonnative)

Also called giant crab spiders, because of their size and appearance, they aren’t native to Montana, but they are sometimes found in houses as they can come in with bananas and other fruit. For example, one was found in a home in a western mountainous forested area.

Family Tetragnathidae – Large-jawed Orb Weavers

Extra large powerful jobs; one species is spread throughout U.S. and Canada and so is probably Montana, the long-jawed orb weaver (Tetragnatha laboriosa)

Family Theridiidae – Comb-Footed Spiders

“Medium to small sized, glossy spiders with globular abdomens, thin legs bearing few spines, and eight relatively large, protuberant eyes.” I have at times had to do a double-take in a basement or outhouse, because the American House Spider (Achaeranea tepidariorum) or House spider (Steatoda sp.) looks small, dark and jewel-like, similar at first glance to a black widow. The house spiders are dark brown, unlike the black widow, and they don't have the red/orange hourglass that female black widows have under their abdomens. There are two species of black widow in Montana: Western Black Widow Spider (Latrodectus hesperus) and Northern Black Widow (Latrodectus variolus ).

Family Thomisidae - Crab or Ambush Spiders

They hold their legs out to the sides like a crab. Wander over ground and plants in search of prey. “First and second pair of legs distinctly longer and stouter than the third and fourth. Abdomen usually broad at the posterior. Crab spiders are commonly seen on flowers, do not construct a web, and are typically brightly colored.” “Crab or ambush spiders are somewhat crab-like in shape and walk sideways or backward. They are medium sized and often brightly colored, with abdomens that are usually wide at the posterior end. The two front pair of legs are usually longer and stouter than the two hind pair and crab spiders often hold their legs poised to trap insect prey. They have eight relatively small, well spaced, light colored eyes. Crab spiders are usually found outside in gardens and landscaping where they spin no webs but forage for their prey or lie in ambush on blossoms or other parts of plants; some on wood fences. They are able to gradually change colors to match flowers for camouflage.” Crab spiders in Montana include the Goldenrod spider (Misumena vatia), the Flower Spider (Mimusa asperatus), the Elegant Crab Spider (Xysticus elegans), and the Thrice-banded Crab Spider (Xysticus triguttatus). There is another group called Inconspicuous Crab Spiders (Philodrumus spp.) that rest on tree bark, and are sometimes separated into their own Family Philodromidae.

By the way, if you sometimes see what looks like a spider that doesn't move for a long time, and you start thinking maybe it's dead, these “dead” spiders often really only the moulted skin off a spider that grew and needed a change.

Resources used:
http://www.spiderzrule.com/
MSU Extension Service MontGuide, Spider Identification and Management, by Gary L. Jensen, Will Lanier, and Catherine E. Seibert. MT 199210 AG Reviewed 3/05 (http://msuextension.org/publications/AgandNaturalResources/MT199210AG.pdf)
U.S. Spiders Identification Chart (not all in Montana). http://www.termite.com/spider-identification.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider_families