If you can drive 65 mph through two feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching…you might be a Montanan. What does this word mean? For RMC freshman Hope Bradley, from Northern Ireland, the first thing that came to mind was, “second home.” But the second was, “Cowboys. Like sexy cowboys.” For many people, Montana brings pictures of the old West to mind: cowboys, wide open spaces, camping under the stars, a rough and tumble life. Is this Montana? What does being a Montanan
mean? Does being a Montanan mean anything?
When one looks up the word “Montanan” in the Urban Dictionary (that unfathomable well of knowledge), the following appears: “Oh man, you’re a Montanan? Cool. So, do you carry guns and drive 100 mph all the time?” According to this same source, Montana is defined as, “Ladies bag bucks, catch monster fish, and will slap you if you reject hunting or fishing, or even are part of PETA. Men do the same.” The internet paints a picture of jaw droppingly gorgeous mountains that, in order to be a true Montanan, one must camp in for at least half the year. In addition to this, one must be able to skin a deer with a Swiss army knife that is ever-present in one of the many pockets of those ever present camouflage cargo pants. Also, one must catch fish with one’s bare hands while balancing on a log careening through white water rapids. Now, obviously, this is an exaggeration, but what comes to mind when “Montanan” is uttered?
The picture that tends to appear is a group of people that are tough as nails, self sufficient, don’t have time for any of that fluff in life (i.e. what most people consider small comforts: working heat, clean cars, sleep, etc.), and are completely obsessed with hunting. Is this accurate? Sophomore Jack Jennaway describes Montanans as valuing, “our independence above all else. We’re comfortable with the cold; we’re used to travelling long distances, and we know how to do things that most people from other places don’t know how to do.” That last part is especially true and exemplified by yet another Montanan maxim: “If you keep jumper cables in your truck and your girlfriend/wife knows how to use them… you might live in Montana.”
Montanans know how to do things themselves. This is probably due to the fact that practically no one lives here; the cow to human ratio is 2.51:1, and there are only seven people per square mile. Mon- tanans don’t ask for help, but many are quick to lend a helping hand. As Jennaway comments, “We’re also some of the most polite people you’ll meet, as exemplified by RMC.”
However, what really seems to be the biggest characteristic of a Montanan is their sense of stubborn self-sufficiency; as exemplified by freshman Mauri Erickson’s comment that, “Being a Montanan is being self-sufficient: hunting your own food, making your own heat, etc.”
So, what then is the Montanan, this new man? Of course, one could say, as junior Andrew Heaton did, “Well, that’s simple! It means to have Montana citizenship.” But clearly, this is far too simple of an explanation. Being a Montanan is more than just residing in Montana. It’s doing things yourself. It’s driving four wheelers down main street. It’s knowing how to use jumper cables from vast experience, not a book. It’s hunting and skiing. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s rejoicing in the fact that in Montana, there are three times as many cows as people.