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The Butte, America film is an excellent multi-disciplinary, educational tool for teaching high school and college level classes.

“Butte, America” is a beautifully told and eye-opening account of the legacy of industrial mining in the American West.  Its compelling first-person narratives engage students in a discussion of both the powerful bonds of community and the disrupting forces of industrial capitalism.

Mary Murphy
Professor of History
Montana State University

“Butte, America” offers a compelling account of the harsh realities of hard rock mining and the hardy resilience of immigrants who made the Mining City their home. Featuring interviews with long-time residents, the film tells an intimate story of determination, hope, and loss as underground and open-pit copper mining played out in Butte, leaving a toxic legacy. “Butte, America” makes a unique contribution by locating Butte’s story in a global context and by offering an account that extends beyond the glory days of Butte’s boom to the social and environmental challenges facing the community in the 21st century. It is an excellent resource for college courses in western history, labor history, women’s studies, environmental studies, and international development studies.

Janet L. Finn
Ph.D. Professor of Social Work and faculty member in Women and Gender Studies
and International Development Studies The University of Montana-Missoula.

“Butte, America” is a compelling documentary about the history of one of the most important mining centers in the United States. With stunning visuals, clear explanations of complex subject matter, and most of the narration directly from the voices of Butte miners and residents who knew the history first-hand, the film is an effective teaching tool. The film’s main strength is its description of the social and environmental impacts of industrial mining, shown through both the local passions of Butte people and the macro context of globalization.

Fredric L. Quivik, PhD
Associate Professor of History
Editor: IA: The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology
Department of Social Sciences, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI

Clark Fork Watershed Education Program

image_winterThe Clark Fork Watershed Education Program (CFWEP) exemplifies the next chapter of the” Butte, America” story.  Operating as a place-based learning program, CFWEP picks up where the film leaves off – focusing on the contemporary story about the aftermath of hard rock mining and Butte’s rebirth. Rattlesnake Productions recognizes this important educational program which is sponsored by Montana Tech of the University of Montana and staffed by the institution’s scientists and engineers. CFWEP uses the extensive environmental cleanup work under way in the Clark Fork River Basin as a living laboratory for elementary and high school students and teachers. Focusing on schools and communities in the Upper Clark Fork River watershed, this program, used along with the film, works to reinforce the scientific, social, cultural, and historical significance of Butte, Montana. The ongoing work of CFWEP and the “Butte, America” film represent a powerful combination of contemporary and historical information – bringing to bear RPI’s expertise in the humanities and story telling with Montana Tech’s expertise in science education and place-based, inquiry-based learning.

What is Place-Based, Inquiry-Based Learning?

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Relationships between human and geographical factors are often overlooked or undervalued in accounts of how contemporary society came into existence. This leads to a sense of identity based not on character development and active citizenship but market-driven consumption. However, history is a living exercise, a work in progress, something that everyone has a hand in constructing. Place-based, inquiry-based learning utilizes local circumstances as the basis for coursework., focusing on subject matter of immediate relevance. The place-based, inquiry-based approach successfully integrates different areas of subject matter, can be tailored to student needs, and can be easily incorporated into existing curricula. Equally important, it satisfies all applicable national standards, a matter of increasing concern as the emphasis on testing increases.

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