“Now you can do all that on a desktop computer,” said Bob Bigart, director of the Salish Kootenai College Press in Pablo. “The economics have changed. You don't need four or five full-time professional slots in a publishing house anymore.”
On Saturday at the Montana Festival of the Book, representatives from the Flathead and Fort Peck reservations will discuss recently completed books that focus on contemporary issues and tribal histories. The books were written for the Tribal History Project, a 2005 state-funded initiative that asked tribes to present their histories for Montana's K-12 students.
Four of the seven tribal colleges in Montana wrote books.
Shanley, also president of Fort Peck Community College, said he and four other authors took the opportunity to write something definitive about the tribe. “We finally have a complete document,” he said.
The 532-page volume of “The History of the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Montana, 1800-2000,” won't be easily read by a fourth-grader, but it does cover the tribes' story, ranging from pre-European contact and federal Indian policy to economic development in the 21st century.
The book filled a wide historical gap and the Montana Historical Society is already moving into a second printed edition, said Shanley.