Western Cultural conducted a class III cultural resource inventory of approximately 11,160 acres in Richland, Prairie, Yellowstone, and Fallon Counties as part of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Indemnity Selection Project Cultural Resource Inventory. The Enabling Act of 1889, which admitted Montana to the Union, granted sections 16 and 36 in every township of Montana and stated that these lands “ … are hereby granted to said states for the support of common schools….”. Over time, most of the lands due Montana have been granted, including the transfer of substantial acreage in lieu of Sections 16 and 36 where prior appropriation prevented transfer to the State. These prior appropriations were primarily Glacier National Park, lands granted to the railroads, and Native American reservations.
The field investigation required 11 weeks of field work, from early May through the middle of August. A total of 30 new and 14 previously recorded cultural resource sites were identified and visited during this survey. This included revisits to three previously recorded prehistoric sites, 11 historic sites, and new recordings of 22 prehistoric and 8 historic era sites. Numerous prehistoric and historic era isolated finds were also recorded during this survey. The survey covered acreage in four different counties in Central and Eastern Montana, including Yellowstone County, Prairie County, Richland County, and Fallon County. Prehistoric site types encountered and revisited include cairns, stone circles, lithic scatters, and rock alignments. Historic sites reported include homestead sites, historic stock raising features, and historic material scatters.
The results of the fieldwork were presented in four separate reports; one corresponding to each of the counties surveyed. These reports described the results of the file and literature searches conducted for each area by the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, the resources encountered and revisited during fieldwork, and National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility. Recommendations for NRHP eligibility followed guidelines set by the National Park Service for evaluating archaeological and historical resources, including aspects of integrity and eligibility under Criterion A – D. Any change in condition to previously recorded resources revisited during this survey were also reported as were any land use or natural processes impacting these sites.