Exhibits and Collections
A Rich History of Local Culture and Scientific Discovery
The Carter County Museum is scientifically significant for its proximity to exposures of the Hell Creek Formation, a deposit known for producing skeletons for the dinosaur halls of museums across the world, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Australia and more. The rocks of Carter County preserve the most accessible record of the last days of the dinosaurs, the extinction event, and the recovery period after it. Scientists from around the world make the trek to Ekalaka to study these fossil resources, both in the field and in our collections that have been building for over a century. The museum boasts a large collection of Paleoindian artifacts, including pottery and points, and an extensive array of cultural objects. One of Montana’s oldest archaeological sites, The Mill Iron Site, is located in the area. Excavated in the 1980s, this was a bison processing site that contains Goshen points and a mammoth bone piece that was used as a foreshaft on an atlatl dart. It dates back to 10,500 years ago. Carter County resides on the ancestral lands of the Lakota (Sioux), Tsistsistas and So'taa'ee'o (Northern Cheyenne), Apsaalooke (Crow), Minnetaree (Hidatsa), Sahnish (Arikara) and Mandan indigenous nations. Ekalaka itself is named for Ijkalaka, an Oglala Lakota woman who was niece to Chief Red Cloud. Many current Ekalaka residents are direct descendants of original homesteading families of the late 1800’s. These families see the museum as the primary steward of the community’s cultural history and donated relics of town life for generations, making for a robust cultural collection that includes everything from a taxidermy two-headed calf to a doll made of barbed wire to military uniforms from different American wars.