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Montana/Dakotas State Office
Release Date: 10/04/12
Contacts: Dave Lefevre    
  (406) 896-5037    
  Brad Purdy    
  (406) 896-5258    

BLM Welcomes Homestead Exhibit to Billings

BILLINGS, Mont. – The BLM continues to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Homestead Act of 1862 by welcoming the “FREE LAND was the Cry” exhibit to the Western Heritage Center from October 15-20. The exhibit is on a nationwide tour and has been traveling around Montana and the Dakotas for the past month. This will be the exhibit’s only stop in Billings.

The display was assembled by the Homestead National Monument of America and features panels highlighting the impact of the Homestead Act of America.

The Homestead Act of 1862 was one of the most significant and enduring events in the westward expansion of the United States. Signed into law by Abraham Lincoln in 1862 after the secession of southern states, this Act turned over vast amounts of the public domain to private citizens. By granting 160 acres of free land to claimants, it allowed nearly any man or woman a chance to live the American Dream. About 270 million acres, or 10 percent of the area of the United States, was claimed and settled under this Act.

The BLM will also host Humanities Montana speaker and novelist Russell Rowland. Mr. Rowland will present “Eastern Montana - Through the Eyes of a Homestead Family” on Thursday, October 18 at the Heritage Center starting at 6:30pm. The presentation is free to the pubic thanks to contributions from the Montana Cultural Trust and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Russell’s family was among the first cattle ranchers in Eastern Montana, giving him a unique insight to the differences, experiences, and history of early Eastern Montana settlers. These pioneers settled on lands not typically associated with Montana in the late nineteenth century to take advantage of excellent grasses for livestock.

The Western Heritage Center is located at 2822 Montana Ave. in Billings, MT 59101. For more information about the exhibit or presentation, call Dave Lefevre at (406) 896-5037.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

Last updated: 10-04-2012