Skip to main content

Big Arm, Montana, located on the Flathead Indian Reservation, was created after the reservation was opened for non-Indian settlement in 1910. Soon 600 non-Indians were living on land which had been occupied by a handful of Indians. At this time, a one-room school was built as a form of pride and hope for the new community. It was one of the first schools in Montana to teach Native American and homesteader’s children together.


The school building is a simple wooden structure.

Outhouse 1

Outhouse 2

Like many rural schools of a century ago, the Big Arm School did not have indoor plumbing. Shown above are the old outhouses at the school.

The school house continued to function as a school until 1952 when the village voted to send their children to the nearby town of Polson (12 miles to the south) for school. A narrow majority felt it would be cheaper to educate their children in the Polson schools than to hire a teacher for their own school.

The old school became the property of the Polson School District and was used as a community building. In 1974 the school building was sold to the local Harmony Club who continued to use it for community activities. In 1995, the Harmony Club disbanded and the keys were given to the local fire chief. For a decade the old school building stood abandoned and boarded up. In 2006, the Big Arm Association started negotiations with the Polson School Board (who had resumed ownership when the Harmony Club disbanded). In 2007 the school was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places and in 2008 the Big Arm Association obtained a five-year renewable lease on the site. A dedicated group of volunteers has been working hard to restore the building.

According to the Big Arm Association:

Preserving this historic school will benefit not only the local residents, but will be a shared treasure for all of Lake County, the State of Montana and indeed the entire United States of America.
Looking South

The Lake

Toward the Lake

Shown above are some views from the front of the school.

Window 196

Shown above is the view from one of the windows in the school.

Potluck 195

Food 200

Food 201

Potluck 205

Potluck 204

The restored school is not just a building: it is a community center where people meet, socialize, and share food. There are monthly potlucks as well as presentations on a variety of topics.  

Presentation 557

Shown above is a presentation at the school made possible by Humanities Montana.

Quilt 190

Rescuing and restoring an old one-room school house requires money. In order to raise money for the project the quilt shown above is being raffled off.

Originally posted to Ojibwa on Wed May 02, 2012 at 04:08 PM PDT.

Also republished by History for Kossacks, Native American Netroots, J Town, and Headwaters.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site