Outstanding Montanans to be Inducted into Gallery
Eve Byron Public Information Officer Montana Historical Society 406/444-6843 (office) 406/422-6601 (mobile) [email protected] www.mhs.mt.gov Feb 6, 2023 Updated Feb 6, 2023
February 9, 2023
Ivan Doig and Dolly Smith Cusker Akers are this year's inductees into the Gallery of Outstanding Montanans.
MTHS Director Molly Kruckenberg and special guest Gov. Greg Gianforte will recognize the achievements of these two exceptional Montanans with a ceremony at noon, March 1, in the capitol rotunda in Helena. The public is invited to attend. The gallery itself is in the west wing of the capitol.
"We are delighted to honor these two extraordinary Montanans by paying tribute to their many accomplishments," Kruckenberg said.
The gallery was established by the Montana State Legislature in 1979 to pay homage to Treasure State citizens who "made contributions of state or national significance to their selected fields while epitomizing the unique spirit and character that defines Montana." The program is operated by the Montana Historical Society.
Ten inductees were chosen in 2016 for the gallery, but only two are initiated every biennium. Inductees are rotated into the gallery every two years when the legislature is in session; each is honored for an eight-year period.
Ivan Doig, a Montana author and historian, devoted his career to telling the stories of ordinary people and examining the ways western lands shaped their lives. His diverse works, which include 13 novels and three non-fiction books, challenged the mythologized West and framed it in the larger context of what it means to be an American. In 2007, Doig was recognized with the Wallace Stegner Award for making a sustained contribution to the cultural identity of the American West. Doig died April 9, 2015, at age 76.
Dolly Smith Cusker Akers, an Assiniboine woman who was Montana's first Native legislator, championed Indian self-determination during the 20th century. Following her legislative tenure, she was Montana's first coordinator of Indian welfare. In addition to her political service in Helena, she was a fixture in Washington, D.C. for more than 60 years, fighting for passage of key federal legislation including the Indian Citizenship Act and the Indian Civil Rights Act. She died June 5, 1986, having dedicated her life to securing opportunity for American Indians, especially members of the Fort Peck tribes.