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Formation of Friends

On May 2, 2003 the first meeting of the Friends of the Bear Paw, Big Hoe and Canyon Creek Battlefields occurred via teleconference call. Those attending were Supt of the Big Hole Battlefield, Jon James; former Supt of Big Hole Battlefield, Jack Williams; long time volunteers of the park, Don and Nina Johnston; descendant of two medal of honor winners in the Battle of the Big Hole, Robert Luppi; future ranger of Bear Paw, Robert West and Bob Reece, President of the Friends of the Little Bighorn Battlefield.

The purpose of the meeting was to begin the work of building the foundation of this new Friends' group. The Bear Paw and Big Hole Battlefield have not had a Friend’s group up to this point.

Another meeting was held May 5, 2003.

Meeting of May 5: Attendees -- Supt Big Hole Battlefield Jon James; former NPS ranger at Big Hole Kermit Edmonds; NPS historian Jerry Greene; Richard Luppi; Don and Nina Johnston; Robert West and Bob Reece.

During this meeting an interim board was formed consisting of Don Johnston, Robert Luppi, Richard Luppi and Jack Williams.

Advisory Board: Jerry Greene, Kermit Edmonds and Bob Reece

There were many people suggested who would be valuable to add to the interim board that represent the Nez Perce, Bear Paw and ranchers. Jon James will be contacting those people over the next two weeks when the interim board will meet again. The interim board will consist of no more than nine people.

Once we are organized enough to move forward we will provide more information here as to how you can join this new organization. It will be exciting to get involved in building something new for such pristine battlefields so important to U.S. history.


Meeting of June 5: Attendees -- Supt Big Hole Battlefield Jon James;  NPS historian Jerry Greene; Robert Luppi; Don and Nina Johnston; NPS Otis Half-Moon, and Bob Reece.

Otis Half-Moon (Nez Perce) was added to the interim board.

Next steps: Jon James will develop the by-laws, Robert Luppi will submit 501c3 application to the IRS and Bob Reece will write the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). All attendees will work on purpose and mission statement of the Friends of the Big Hole & Bear Paw Battlefields.


Meeting of September 24: Attendees -- Supt Big Hole Battlefield Jon James; Robert Luppi; Don and Nina Johnston; Robert Dobbins, and Bob Reece.

Robert Dobbins is graciously giving of his time to draw up and submit the necessary paperwork to apply for the Friends' 501c3 tax-exempt status. The interim board elected interim officers for this application process. Robert Luppi, President; Milt Wester, Secretary and Bob Reece, Treasurer.

The board decided to change the name of the organization from The Friends of the Bear Paw and Big Hole Battlefields to The Friends of the Bear Paw, Big Hole & Canyon Creek Battlefields.

Next Steps: Bob Reece will update the MOA with the new Friends’ name and resend to Jon James. Jon James will contact certain individuals for positions on the board or the advisory board. Robert Luppi and Robert Dobbins will continue to work on the 501c3 application. Robert Luppi will also provide the questionnaire for the application to Jon James and Bob Reece for review.

Meeting of October 30: Attendees -- Robert Luppi,  Bob Inman, Sandi McFarland, Jack Williams, Bob Reece and Robert Dobbins.

The agenda included legal advisor Mr. Robert Dobbins discussing 501C filing requirements; setting up a Friends checking account and proposed budget and expenses as part of our IRS requirements; the draft memorandum of agreement, which will go to NPS Contracting Officer Joyce Bolin, who will do a final review and send it to President Luppi and other board officers for signature; the draft By-Laws will route to board members soon; a mission or purpose statement (Board members should take a look at the Friends of Little Bighorn website and their mission statement that could be easily adapted for us); whether or not to have a membership (most agreed to have membership and Bob Inman recommended we have five individuals from each battlefield area or region as voting members along with the Board of Directors); membership dues and meetings; and Supt Jon James' status as an NPS representative or ex officio Friends member.

Several questions Board members raised need to be addressed: what bank to use and location of Post Office?

Bob Reece offered his services to build and maintain a new Friends of the Bear Paw, Big Hole & Canyon Creek Battlefield's website.

Finally, after the Friends is incorporated soon, President Luppi will set up the first official Board of Directors meeting to discuss these and many more ideas and needs for our new fledging organization, so stay tuned.


First Meeting with Designated Board of Directors -- January 9, 2004


Robert Luppi,  President

Milt Wester, Secretary

Bob Reece, Interim Treasurer

Bob Inman

Don Johnston

Richard Luppi

Sandi McFarland

Jack Williams

Advisory Board:

Kermit Edmonds

Jerry Greene

Otis Halfmoon

Jim Magera

Attendees -- Robert Luppi, Bob Inman, Don and Nina Johnston, Richard Luppi. Bob Reece was not able to participate personally, but did send information about costs and developing a Friends' website. Other Board members not present were Sandi McFarland, Milt Wester, and Jack Williams. Guests were  Legal Advisor Robert Dobbins. NPS members present were Liaison Jon G. James, Nez Perce NHP Superintendent Doug Eury, and Bear Paw Battlefield Park Ranger Robert West.

Old Business:

The Friends' Articles of Incorporation have been filed with the state of Montana, and as of December 29th, 2003, we are officially incorporated!

The Friends' Memorandum of Agreement with the National Park Service is completed and being sent around for final signatures next week.  These two actions are major steps and form a solid foundation for the Friends.

President Luppi will soon be establishing a checking account with Citizens Bank in Hamilton, Montana, and we already have received over $800.00 in donations to get things rolling.

Mr. Dobbins and President Luppi volunteered to draft a Friends' mission or purpose statement and by-laws, using the "Friends of Little Bighorn" and the "Friends of Manzanar National Historic Site" (A World War II Japanese Internment Camp near Bishop, California.  It is now a National Park Service site.) by-laws as examples.

It was decided by the Board members to have nine positions on the Board of Directors.  Presently, there are eight chairs filled.  The Board asked Mr. Robert West to inquire of others about serving on the Board as the final member.

Mr. James provided cost and development information from Mr. Reece about starting a Friends' website. The President made a motion and it was passed by the Board to enlist the expertise of Mr. Reece to develop a new Friends' website.


New Business:

Mr. James recommended establishing one annual meeting for the Friends' members-at-large at one of the battlefield areas and two annual meetings for the Board of Directors.  One Board of Directors' meeting would coincide with the Friends' membership at-large meeting.  Mr. James also suggested having the Friends look into receiving the copyright  for Aubrey Haines's book, Elusive Victory (excellent history of the Battle of the Big Hole). President Luppi and Mr. West will contact Aubrey Haines widow about that possibility.

Meeting of February 13, 2004: Attendees: Acting Supt Big Hole Battlefield Robert Applegate; Nez Perce NHP Superintendent Doug Eury; Robert Luppi; Don and Nina Johnston; Richard Luppi; Milt Wester;  Bob Reece

Treasurer Bob Reece reported that all our funds have been deposited into our checking account at Citizen’s State Bank, Hamilton, MT.

Old Business:

President Robert Luppi brought the board up to date with the MOA (which is signed, so we’re official), the 501c3 application (Robert will mail to Bob Reece for his review), articles of incorporation and the by-laws. All of these are very close to completion.

New Business:


On February 9, 2004 Jon James, former Superintendent Big Hole National Battlefield began his new assignment as Superintendent of George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia, across the Potomac River from our nation's capital, Washington, D.C. Robert Applegate is currently acting Superintendent of Big Hole. The Board voted unanimously to accept Jon James as a member of the Advisory Board. We’re excited that Jon will continue to participate with the Friends’ organization that he started.

Bob Reece provided information about the website and the new online bookstore. Bob is using a new service for the bookstore so he will need to analyze it over the next several months to ensure it’s what we will continue to use.

Bob Reece also gave several suggestions about whether to have membership or not. The board voted unanimously to include membership. There was also discussion on a variety of possible incentives to encourage individuals to join. The board will decide what levels of membership and dues at the next meeting.

There was discussion regarding design concepts for our logo. Bob Reece mentioned that he has a service that we can use to sell merchandize with our logo online. Discussion to continue.

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