Anthropological Internship at the Moon-Randolph Homestead

During the fall semester of 2021, I was fortunate enough to partake in an internship at the historic Moon-Randolph Homestead in the rattlesnake. The homestead was first used by the Salish tribe, long before settlers came to the Missoula area. It was then homesteaded by the Moon family then sold to the Randolph family a few years later. Then in the 1990s, after the last member of the Randolph family to live on the homestead passed away, the city of Missoula purchased it in order to preserve its history and to increase the public land surrounding Missoula. While interning there I was tasked with two large projects and a number of small ones. The first of the two major projects, which took place in the first half of my time there, was to care for the homestead’s historic orchard; I learned more than I ever thought I could about orchards, by pruning the trees, weeding the area, spreading mulch, and almost single-handedly harvesting all the apples from the nearly sixty-tree orchard which were then given to Western Cider where the apples were crafted into a special cider which consisted of only homestead apples. The second major project which I undertook was the cleaning of the homestead’s original tack shed which had not been opened since the city first bought the land in the 1990s; while wearing a full-body Tyvek suit and respirator, I removed every artifact from the shed and used gallons upon gallons of bleach to clean more mouse nests, dead mice, and, above all else, mouse feces than I have ever seen at every other time in my life combined. I then cleaned every artifact individually and then reorganized the shed and created a meaningful display within it so that visitors could have a better understanding of how homesteaders relied on horses every day in a time when mechanical machines were almost non-existent. In addition, I helped with general maintenance of the historic homestead and gave tours on several Saturdays during the semester to help visitors understand what it was like to live during the time period of homesteaders.

My internship experience not only gave me relevant work experience which will help me in my anthropology career, but it also helped me to gain diverse perspectives on American history, including those on the opposing side of homesteaders- the indigenous peoples whose land was ultimately taken from them. Learning about the history of the area in which many of us call home from both the commonly learned perspective of the colonizer and the underrepresented perspective of those who were colonized helped me to fulfill my global theme: culture and politics. Those diverse perspectives are now assisting me in the way that I go about my capstone project which involves indigenous misrepresentation in the media, which stems directly from the US’s history of settler colonialism. The information that I learned at the internship in order to accurately provide information on tours has helped me to see a narrative about homesteading and manifest destiny which is not often taught in American history.

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