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The Wild West, Artist Charles M. Russell, and the Plains Indians

Program Number: 1650RJ
Start and End Dates:
6/23/2013 - 6/29/2013; 6/19/2016 - 6/25/2016; 8/14/2016 - 8/20/2016;
Duration: 6 nights
Location: Great Falls, Montana
Price starting at: $625.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Multi-Topic; History & Culture; Native American Studies Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 16; 6 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 6 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Gluten Free; Low Salt; Vegetarian    

Activity Particulars

Program includes getting on and off a coach bus, walking along paved and gravel paths, and standing in a museum. Elevators in the Centre are located a couple hundred feet from classes.

Date Specific Information


Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Coordinated by Ursuline Retreat, Conference Centre and Museum.

Montana, The 1800s: The Wild West

Through firsthand characterizations, historian Dugan Coburn presents an account of Montana's early wild ways and wild days. He brings to life three illustrious and historical folk heroes with period dress and tools of their lifestyle.

Legacy of Cowboy Artist Charles M. Russell

Study the art, life and times of colorful cowboy artist CM Russell and how the wild west impacted his art. Field trip to the Russell Museum containing 11,000 paintings and spend an afternoon at historic Fort Benton, the Little Chicago of the plains.

Customs of the Blackfeet Nation and Plains Indians

Enhance your knowledge of Plains Indians with presenter Don Fish, a member of the Blackfeet Nation. Study Native ceremonies, rituals, traditions and beliefs such as Sweat Lodges and dances. Experience field trips to the largest buffalo jump in the U.S., the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, the C. M. Russell Museum, Ulm Pishkun Buffalo Jump, a Gates of the Mountains Boat cruise, a nature walk, and a visit to a Hutterite Colony.

Great Falls

The Missouri River city of Great Falls, an eastern gateway to Glacier Park and just a four hour drive from Yellowstone, is rich in the state’s natural and historic resources. An important stop for the Corp of Discovery, the city now hosts the impressive Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.

Retreat center on National Register of Historic Places offers quiet rooms with sink, standard shared baths with private shower.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Donald Fish

Donald P. Fish is from the Southern Pikuni, one of the four tribes of the Blackfeet Nation Confederacy. Don is an adjunct faculty member at Montana State University College of Technology in the Native American studies program. He has worked as a chemical dependency counselor and is currently a consultant for the First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park. Don prefers to be known as a traditionalist, one who actively practices the traditions of his people.
Meals and Lodgings
   Ursuline Centre
  Great Falls, MT 6 nights
 Ursuline Centre
Type: Other
  Description: Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
  Contact info: 2300 Central Avenue
Great Falls, MT 59401 USA
phone: 406-452-8585
  Room amenities: Private and semiprivate rooms with sink in each room.
  Facility amenities: RV park with showers, bathrooms, dining hall and classrooms on site. All meals included. Level parking area for self-contained RV's. Electrical hookups and water available. Nearby dump station.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Bathroom: Standard shared baths with private shower & toilet facilities.
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: $24 Private $34 Double Contact Ursuline Centre for reservations
  Additional nights after: $24 Private $34 Double Contact Ursuline Centre for reservations
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Check in between 2-4 pm You will be staying at Ursuline Centre that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after breakfast on Saturday You will be staying at Ursuline Centre the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Free parking.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Great Falls, MT
  Nearest city or town:  Helena, Montana
  Nearest highway: Interstate 15 is the main access to Great Falls
  Nearest airport:  Great Falls International Airport
  From End of Program
  Location: Great Falls, MT
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Great Falls International Airport


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Ursuline Centre will pick up
phone: 406-452-8585


Per Person/One Way:


Complimentary Hotel shuttle
Prices are subject to change.

Driving Directions
  Great Falls, MT Map of Great Falls is included in packet that is mailed out upon registration. All entries into the city and the location of Ursuline Centre will be marked on this map.
Elevation Note: 3100 feet.

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: check in between 2-4 pm/Dinner 5:00-6:00 pm/ Orientation 6:15 pm/ Tour of Ursuline Centre 7:15 pm
(Sunday, June 23)
 Arrive To: Welcome/orientation/dinner Welcome to your "home away from home" for the next 7 days. Journey through a walk back in time as you marvel at the antique furnishing, marble staircase and paintings from another century. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991. Ursuline Centre is an architectural treasure in the Northwest. Built in 1912 as a grade school, high school and boarding school for girls by the Ursuline Sisters who settled in Montana in 1884 from Toledo, Ohio.
 Dinner: Dinner at Ursuline Centre
 Evening: Orientation & Tour of the Historic Ursuline Centre and Museum by Director Harry Tholen
Accommodations: Ursuline Centre
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: AM Classes/PM Field Trip to Fort Benton
(Monday, June 24)
 Breakfast: AM Classes:(Frenchy) "An introduction to Toussaint Charbonneau-The Man". The Trapper-Trader on the Lewis & Clark Expedition by actor and historian Jack Smith. See the expedition through his eyes. AM Basic Religious Concepts of the Plains Indians. Presenter Don Fish, a member of the Pikuni Blackfeet Tribe.
 Lunch: sack lunch en route on Field Trip to Fort Benton
 Afternoon: In the early 1800's Fort Benton was referred to as the "Little Chicago of the Plains". We will spend an afternoon to visit the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument Interpretive Center, Smithsonian Buffalo Exhibit, Fort Benton Trading Post & walk on the historic Missouri River Levee. Depart from the Grand Union Hotel, the finest accommodations between Minneapolis and Seattle, which hosted the rich and famous during the "golden years" of the 1800's.
 Dinner: At Ursuline Centre
 Evening: Open
Accommodations: Ursuline Centre
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: AM Classes/PM Field Trip to First Peoples Buffalo Jump/Field Trip to Giant Springs & Nature Walk
(Tuesday, June 25)
 Breakfast: Classes: (Frenchy) "Tools of the Trade" Toussaint Charbonneau and the adventurous expeditions in Montana: Presenter Jack Smith AM "The Life and Art of Charles M. Russell": Presenter, Bob Doerk
 Lunch: at Ursuline Centre
 Afternoon: Field Trip to First Peoples Buffalo Jump. The largest Buffalo Jump site in the United States. The American Bison dominated the landscape and shaped the lives of the people who lived in its presence. For thousands of years people have gathered here to celebrate and to feast. Experience this means of survival through the eyes of your Blackfeet guide, Don Fish
 Dinner: at Ursuline Centre
 Evening: Field Trip to Giant Springs Park and nature walk along the Missouri River, 1/2 mile with flat terrain; visit Rainbow Dam and Crooked Falls.
Accommodations: Ursuline Centre
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: AM Classes/Class: The Life & Art of Charles Russell. Presenter Bob Doerk/PM Field Trip to the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center/Field Trip to Big Stone Hutterite Colony
(Wednesday, June 26)
 Breakfast: Classes: (Frenchy) "The People We Met" - Toussaint Charbonneau. Presenter Jack Smith "Blackfeet Nation Yesterday & Today". Presenter Don Fish.
 Lunch: at Ursuline Centre
 Afternoon: Field Trip: Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center. An interactive re-creation of the epic journey of Lewis & CLark from St. Charles, Missouri to their ultimate goal, the Pacific shores. View the canoes and supplies needed to make this remarkable journey of discovery and their 30 day portage of the Great Falls of the Missouri River.
 Afternoon: Class: "The Life and Art of Charles Russell"
 Dinner: Dinner at Ursuline
 Evening: Field Trip to Hutterite Colony. Learn how this communal life was formed and how it co-exists with our modern society. View the latest in farming technology. Visit their cattle, hogs, chicken and turkey operations, their private school that is part of the Public School system, their homes and their Chapel. The tour is conducted by Colony members.
Accommodations: Ursuline Centre
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: AM Classes/Field Trip to C. M. Russell Museum/Field Trip to Ryan Dam
(Thursday, June 27)
 Breakfast: AM Classes: Past & Present Ceremonies of the Plains Indians Music & Dance of the Plains Indians Presenter: Don Fish (Frenchy) "Breaking Camp": Presenter Jack Smith
 Lunch: Lunch at Ursuline
 Afternoon: Field Trip to the C. M. Russell Museum & Log Studio. View the largest collection of Charles M. Russell paintings and bronzes in the Museum's permanent collection. It is also home to the Browning Firearms Collection. Tour Charlie's original log studio that still contains many of the artist's personal collection of art supplies, furnishings and original works of art: Presenter Bob Doerk
 Dinner: Dinner at Ursuline
 Evening: Field Trip: Experience the Great Falls of the Missouri and re-live the experiences of the Lewis and Clark Expedition as they portaged their six pirogues and their gear around four falls. The portage lasted one month and covered eighteen miles. Presenter Georges De Giorgio
Accommodations: Ursuline Centre
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: AM Class/Field Trip to the Gates of the Mountains Sack lunch on the trip/Road Scholar Appreciation Dinner
(Friday, June 28)
 Breakfast: Class: Charlie Russell and the Open Range. Presenter Bob Doerk
 Morning: Field Trip: A pivotal point in the Lewis & Clark journey. A time to turn around or a time to press forward. See for yourself, as you take a scenic boat tour up the mighty Missouri River. What would you have done? Limestone cliffs rise to a spectacular height of 1200 feet. "In many places," wrote Meriwether Lewis, "the rocks seem ready to tumble on us. At each bend in the waterway, great stone walls seemed to block passage, only to open like gentle giant gates as the expedition drew near." Many of Montana's big game animals reside here.
 Dinner: When we arrive home, our kitchen staff will have prepared a warm and hearty dinner in thanksgiving for this time spent together, making new friendships and sharing memories of the adventures of the week.
Accommodations: Ursuline Centre
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7: Departure
(Saturday, June 29)
 Breakfast: Breakfast and departure.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

A Bibliography of the Published Works of Charles M Russell

Author: Karl Yost

Captain Lewis Explores the Rocky Mountain Front

Author: R.W. Gustafson

Description: Lewis & Clark journey. Author R.W. lives in Montana

Charles M Russell Word Painter: Letters 1887-1926 Amon Carter Museum

Author: Brian Dippie

Charles M Russell: Paintings of the Old American West

Author: Louis Chapin

Dry Rain

Author: Pete Fromm

Description: A series of short stories. Pete is from Great Falls and has won the Booksellers award for this title and for his book titled Indian or Crow Tales.

Indian or Crow Tales

Author: Pete Fromm

Description: Pete is from Great Falls and has won the Booksellers award for this title along with his book titled Dry Rain.

Memories of Old Montana

Author: Con Price

Montana: A History of Two Centuries

Author: Malone and Roeder

Description: A good overall view of Montana history.


Author: Anna Lee Waldo

Description: This is a 1000 page novel, the first half is factual, the second half is highly speculative regarding what might have happened to her in her later years.

Stay Away Joe

Author: Dan Cushman

Description: A book about reservation life after World War II. This was made into a Broadway play.

The Charles M Russell Book

Author: Harold McCracken

The Fur Trade on the Upper Missouri 1840-1865

Author: John Sunder

Description: This is from the University of Oklahoma and was published in 1965.

The Last Best Place

Author: William Kittredge

Description: An anthology of poetry, short stories, Pioneer and Indian stores, journals of exploration ranging from early days to contemporary times. An excellent overview of the state's literature.

The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson

Author: David Boorstein

The Mammoth Book of the West: The Making of the American West, new edition

Author: John Lewis, ed

The West

Author: Ken Burns

Trails I Rode: Memories of Old Cowboy Days and Charlie Russell

Author: Con Price

Undaunted Courage

Author: Stephen Ambrose

Description: This is an interesting book about Lewis and Clark.

York: The Slave Who Helped Explore America

Author: R.W. "Rib" Gustafson

Description: The Lewis and Clark journey. Author R.W. lives in Montana

any title

Author: James Welch

Description: A brilliant writer of contemporary fiction. Writes of the modern day Native American and the problems they have and the way they deal with them. Another writer whose imagery is excellent.

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