Sunday, March 1, 2015

Return To Big Sky Country

En route to Missoula Friday we thought we would give the trails near Seeley Lake a try. After nearly two hours of bronco-bust riding, we gave up. The place appears so crowded the groomer can't keep up with what little snow there is. Roughest riding ever. Fortunately, our good and great rides this winter far outweigh the bad ones.

We returned the snowmobile to our storage unit and the trailer to friend Dave on Saturday. Season over. Despite the lack of much good snow, it was a good return season for us, and we are already looking forward to 2016. It will be much easier to get things going next year, after only a year's absence and storage.

We will stay in Missoula another week or more, getting some improvement work done on the Bigfoot and more sorting/selling/donating from our storage unit. There probably won't be much news. In view of this, I offer below a brief article on the derivation of the term "Big Sky Country," (not Guthrie's novel, The Big Sky) from The Hellroarin' Encyclopaedia of Montana History and Culture, which I had the honor of founding and editing some years ago. The discovery of the term's origin was made by historian and friend Lyndel Meikle.

Schlobigsky, Vladislav Polish priest and explorer, b. 1751, Warsawa, d. circa 1810. Little is known of Schlobigsky’s early years, except that he became a black robe priest of the Russian Orthodox Church in his early twenties. Difficulties with church authorities sent him further and further east until he appeared as priest to the settlement at Russian River, in what is now California, in the 1790s. Expelled from his position there, amid rumors of improper advances toward seal-skin traders and altar boys, he journeyed further east to befriend and minister to a variety of Native Nations in what is now Montana. Little is known of his interactions with these peoples, except that he was very likely the first European to set foot in Montana. (For discussion of whether or not Poland, or for that matter, Russia, is part of Europe, see Norman Davies, Europe: A History, pp. 1-847.) Blackfoot interpreters, unable to pronounce the Polish “Schlo-”, shortened his name to “Bigsky,” whence Montana became known among later explorers as “Bigsky country.”

Vladimir Schlobigsky (center) and friends

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