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Frank Bird Linderman came to the Montana Territory in 1885, at the age of sixteen, and initially worked as a trapper, guide, miner, and assayer. During these early years he was in frequent contact with various Indian tribes of the region, and began to chronicle their lives and legends. In 1897 Linderman settled in the Ruby Valley with his wife and two daughters in a cabin which he built on Mill Creek; near the thriving camp of Brandon. Soon afterwards, he purchased the assets of a failed Sheridan newspaper for $5 and began publishing The Chinook. Linderman was elected as Madison County’s Representative to the state legislature in 1903 and 1905, and served as Assistant Secretary of State from 1905-07.
In 1917, Linderman moved to the Flathead Lake area and devoted himself to preserving the Old West in words and art. He, along with his good friend Charlie Russell, also worked tirelessly in the effort to obtain a “homeland” and treaty rights for the Cree and Chippewa. By the time of his death, in 1938, Frank had authored thirteen books, produced seventeen inspiring bronze sculptures, and the Rocky Boys Reservation had been established. In addition to preserving the stories and beliefs of the buffalo-era Indians of Montana, Linderman had a deep appreciation of our natural resources. He wrote, “I believe in the cultivation of appreciation for the work and beauties of nature as a firm foundation for better citizenship.”
Thanks to research work by Celeste River, the energetic leadership of Carol Lee and Dr. Warren Swager, and the hard work and generous gifts of several volunteers, the remains of Linderman’s Mill Creek cabin was identified, the VCPA obtained the deed to the cabin, and it was relocated to property adjacent to the Robber’s Roost. The cabin has been beautifully restored and we were thrilled to have Sally Hatfield, granddaughter of Mr. Linderman, attend the dedication ceremonies in 2011. Today the cabin not only serves as a memorial to Frank Bird Linderman, but also provides a wonderful site for meetings…and as a peaceful spot to enjoy the natural beauty of the area…and as the perfect place to sit and read one of Linderman’s books.