The Billings Outpost

Oft-banned book wins fans

By ADRIAN JAWORT - For The Outpost

bookUpon reading Sherman Alexie’s young adult novel, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” Senior High English teacher and Native Australian Glenda McCarthy knew it was the perfect novel for students in Montana.

However, because of the blunt nature of it, the book has been highly controversial despite winning the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. According to the American Library Association, Alexie’s book has been an annual target of the “most challenged books to be banned” since 2010, usually inhabiting the No. 2 or No. 3 spot. This year’s ALA “Banned Book Week” runs from Sept. 21-27.

Last Updated on Friday, 26 September 2014 11:05

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World War I series gets under way

By ED KEMMICK - Last Best News

Last year, when the Montana State University Billings Library presented a series of lectures marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, no one had any idea how many people would turn out for the Tuesday night presentations.

Brent Roberts, the library director, said they had a small classroom reserved, with room for about 35 people. Forty minutes before the first lecture was to start, it was obvious that would be too small, so Roberts started making plans to move into a classroom with room for 90.

And still people came streaming in, with the result that plans changed again and the lecture was held in Library 148, the largest classroom on campus, with a capacity of about 200.

The room filled up that night and attendance stayed nearly as strong for the next six lectures.

The professors who took part in the series, Roberts said, “felt like Mick Jagger. They felt like Britney Spears.”

So Roberts was receptive when Matt Redinger, the school’s vice provost for academic affairs, suggested another lecture series this year, commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of World War I.

Redinger admits he had ulterior motives. A longtime history professor who became vice provost last year, he did not deliver a lecture in the Civil War series. He’ll make up for that on Oct. 21, when he lectures on “Propaganda in WWI.”

The series began Tuesday night, again in Library 148, with English professor Brian Dillon lecturing on “If Memory Serves: Writers Who Challenge How We Think About World War I.”

The 11-part series will continue every Tuesday through Oct. 28, then resume during spring semester on Tuesdays Feb. 10 through March 17.

All lectures will start at 6:30 p.m. The series, which has support from the Gilder-Lehrman Foundation and Humanities Montana, is free and open to the public.

Last Updated on Friday, 26 September 2014 11:05

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Group recalls Civil War

Story and Photos - By STEPHEN DOW - For the Outpost
Tiea Tobey, left, makes an apple dessert during a NRCWA presentation in Huntley.  Jim Vaughn loads a pistol during the Civil War presentation.


At Huntley Park last Sunday, two members of the Union Army’s 15th Iowa Volunteer Infantry were camped just a few feet from the playground. Naturally, passersby were curious about this unusual occurrence.

While looking through the camp kitchen, a young girl’s attention was drawn to a bowl full of square brown crackers.

“What’s this?” she asked Sarah, the camp cook.

“That’s hardtack,” the cook replied while cutting apples.

“What’s hardtack?” the girl asked.

“Hardtack is water and flour mixed together,” the cook said. “It’s part of our daily rations. You can try a piece if you’d like, but don’t bite into it. You could break your teeth.”

As the girl left while sucking on a piece of hardtack, Tiea Tobey broke out of the character of Sarah and smiled.

Last Updated on Friday, 19 September 2014 15:37

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Tombstone mystery solved

By ED KEMMICK - Last Best News

The power of social media was on display in Billings Monday, when users of a Facebook page quickly solved the mystery surrounding a tombstone found in the Yellowstone River.

The granite headstone was found Saturday during the eighth annual Yellowstone River Cleanup. A group of Rocky Mountain College students found the headstone near Duck Creek Bridge, on dry cobblestone near the water’s edge, and hauled it by boat to Norm’s Island, a few miles downstream.

That’s where Merry Ann Peters, who was walking her dogs on the island Sunday, came across the tombstone.

“I almost started crying,” she said. “It was the saddest thing I ever saw.”

Last Updated on Friday, 19 September 2014 15:37

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