Photo above is from February, 2017 "College Day." Hazel is in the U of MO sash. Photo below is a profile of Hazel . Both photo's courtesy of Library of congress. 


by Diane Larson

Twenty six of America’s finest women are accompanying me to jail. It’s splendid, don’t worry, love Hazel stop,” reads a Western Union Telegram dated August 15, 1918 sent from Washington DC to Billings, MT.

In January of 1917 the National Women’s Party (NWP) began a silent picket at the White House, the Silent Sentinels as they were called. According to Women of Protest time-line on Library of Congress website this was the first suffrage picket line leaving Congressional Union headquarters to march to the White House.

One hundred years later women are still picketing and marching. The Women’s March that took place the day after Trump’s inauguration in January of 2017 was just the most recent exercise in the fight for equality and women’s rights.  

In the United States there is a long and dark history of inequality for women during the suffrage movement. The women who fought for the right to vote suffered crowds of people yelling hate speech while they protested. Their banners were ripped from their hands and torn to pieces. They served prison time for protesting. In prison they were mistreated and so on, nevertheless, they did persist. Progress has been made; battles have been won, but the fight is not over.

This past election year taught us that we have some distance to achieve in this fight for women’s rights. Among the issues that women are fighting for is, equal pay. Women still earn only 78 cents on the dollar compared to what men earn. Regardless of the 1963 Equal Pay Act there is still a ‘gender gap.’

The fight includes, according to these issues. Lack of paid family leave, violence against women, products and services targeted to women are priced higher and access to reproductive health care is challenging.

The January 21, 2017, women’s march saw much controversy. If you were anywhere near social media you may have seen more than one person remark or question that they just didn’t understand what these women were marching for or why they felt a need to protest. Comments with this sentiment came from women as well as men. Maybe issues seem milkier now, however in the past they were not so.

March is Women’s history month. A time set aside to look at and celebrate women’s contributions to history, culture and society. It has been observed in the United States since 1987. In March we remember and celebrate the women who throughout time have contributed greatly to women’s causes.

The suffrage movement spanned many years. So many women fought hard and struggled against all odds so that a woman’s voice in the form of a vote can be heard.

Women like American suffragist, social activist and abolitionist; Elizabeth Cady Stanton. American social reformer, women’s rights activist and pivotal figure in the suffrage movement, Susan B. Anthony. We also celebrate Montana’s own Jeanette Rankin who was the first woman to serve in the U.S. Congress and helped pass the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.

We know these women and we celebrate them. However, there are many more out there who need a shout out because they dedicated their lives to women’s causes. One of those women is Montana’s own, Hazel Hunkins-Hallinan. Hazel worked for 70 as an activist for women’s rights in America and abroad.

The telegram message in the opening sentence was written by Hazel in 1917. She was in Washington at the time picketing in front of the White House with little more than 2 dozen women from the National Women’s Party. They were attempting to get the attention of President Woodrow Wilson and secure his support a national suffrage for women.

Hazel was born June 6, 1890 in Aspen, Colorado. Her family moved to Billings, MT where Hazel attended Senior High School. According to Kevin Kooistra, Executive Director of the Western Heritage Center in Billings, MT Hazel was a good student. She graduated the valedictorian of her class and in her annual it said of Hazel, that “she was voted most popular, second smartest and third most conceited.”

After high school in 1908, Hazel went on to study chemistry. She received her A.B. from Vassar College in 1913. She worked for several years in chemistry labs. In 1916 Hazel was called back home to care for her ailing mother. When her mother recovered, Hazel decided it was time to go back to work.

Because of her gender, Hazel was denied positions in her chosen field of chemistry. According to Kooistra she was told at job interviews that, “You are qualified, but we really don’t want a woman working in our labs.” One such place where she was turned down for employment was the Western Sugar Cooperative in Billings.

Being rejected because she was a woman was the tipping point; she decided that her attention and energy needed to be aimed at women’s causes. Right away Hazel joined the National Woman’s Party (NWP) in 1916.

Hazel quickly became deeply involved in the suffrage movement. She actively took part in the NWP attempts to put pressure on President Woodrow Wilson and the Democratic Party to get support for the proposed federal suffrage amendment.

Between 1917 and 1919 the NWP organized and participated in several picket campaigns of the White House with Hazel at the forefront. During their June, 1917, campaign the NWP endured many attacks against them, but they persisted.

After the war started in April of 1917 those who opposed suffrage came out against them even stronger. They were painted at foolish women and unpatriotic. When a reporter from the Gazette asked Hazel why she would make such a laughing stock of herself, Hazel said, “We are taking advantage of the war situation to point out that if this war is for democracy, if we send our soldiers 3,000 miles into the trenches of a foreign land to fight for democracy it would not be amiss to have democracy extended at home.”

Hazel saw the inside of a jail several times for her activism. One such arrest took place on August 6, 1918 at the statue of Lafayette. According to a biography on the NWP website, Hazel jumps onto the pedestal of the statue and yells to the crowd, “Here, at the statue of Lafayette, who fought for the liberty of this country, and under the American flag, I am asking for the enfranchisement of American women.” She was then arrested.

Hazel’s determination did falter. When the 19th Amendment was adopted on August 26, 1920 her drive to see equality for women remained.

In 1920 Hazel moved to London, England and worked as a stringer for the Chicago Tribune. In England she married fellow journalist Charles Thomas Hallinan.

During her years in England Hazel involved herself in the Six Point Group. This was a British feminist group who were working for equality for women across the pond. Kooistra said that Hazel was the “first and only American to lead the group” in its history.

In the 1970s Hazel became active with the Women’s equality movement in America once again.

When President Jimmy Carter signed the ‘Women’s Equality Day’ proclamation, Hazel was there. He had this to say in his speech on that day in August 26, 1977, “Standing behind me is a woman, Ms. Hallinan, who in 1917 stood outside the gates of the White House when Woodrow Wilson was President, simply holding a sign in her hand that was photographed, saying, "How long will it be before women can have freedom?" She was convicted of a crime and jailed. Although we've come a long way since then, we still have a long way to go.”

That year the Salt Lake Tribune wrote the following describing Hazel, “She was a tiny gray haired woman with a feminist vocabulary, a notorious arrest record and a surprisingly sharp tongue.”

Today the fight for women’s causes continues. There are still battles to wage and fights to win. For all the women out there I say thank goodness for women with feminist vocabulary, possibly notorious arrest records for being jailed for the cause, and surprisingly sharp tongues.


Big Sky Connection


Budget Watchdog says Results will Impact States

Eric Tegethoff

March 1, 2017

HELENA, Mont. - President Donald Trump's call to increase military spending by $54 billion likely means cuts will be made to some politically-sensitive programs, from education and the environment, to science and fighting poverty. Trump first announced his plans Monday to the National Governors Association and shared more details in a speech to Congress last night.

Lindsay Koshgarian, the research director of the National Priorities Project, says it's unclear where the hike in defense funding would come from. She says this is the time for citizens to speak up, noting that cuts would have a trickle-down effect on states, cities and counties.

"There are a lot of reasons for members of Congress to care about this," she said. "The good news is that Congress actually has quite a large say in what the final budget looks like. So, the right thing to do is to contact your member of Congress and let them know what your concerns are."

President Trump has said the money will come from, in his words, a "revved-up economy." He has also said it's time for America to "start winning wars again." But the budget proposal has a long way to go, and some pushback from Congress is almost certain.

The U.S. spends 21 times more on the military than it does on foreign-aid programs, although in Koshgarian's view, foreign aid for causes like fighting hunger and disease does more to increase stability around the world.

"We actually get a lot in return for that money, in the form of added security for our country," she explained. "And if we don't spend that money, we will need to spend money on the other side fighting wars - and I don't think that's a choice that anyone would want to make."

Koshgarian thinks any new military funding should come first from ending wasteful spending within the Pentagon itself. She adds programs that make people's lives better shouldn't be raided when some believe the Pentagon isn't doing its fair share to combat waste.


Click photo to listen to today's top stories. 



March 1, 2017

This a.m. the Senate voted to confirm Representative Ryan Zinke of Montana to the Department of Interior, 68-31, reports CNN politics. 

March Events and Programs:

Art Auction 49

Saturday, March 4, 2017, 5:00 p.m. at Yellowstone Art Museum

Open seating tickets $95 or $105 at the door, and reserved seating $115. Reserve your tickets by calling 406-256-6804 or visit to purchase tickets online.

The exhibition culminates in our annual Art Auction, which consists of a silent auction, a live auction, and a “Quick Draw.” The Art Auction theme this year is icy with cold cocktails and cool artwork that will send chills down your spine...and all for a great cause!  The evening once again features heavy hors d’oeuvres by Tom Nelson Catering, and dessert buffet. Silent auction bidding and Buy-It-Now is available during the entire exhibition and bidding ends at 7 p.m. during the auction event. Proceeds support exhibitions and education programs.

The 49th Annual Art Auction is generously sponsored by title sponsor Oakland & Company. Additional support is provided by sponsors Intermountain Distributing Company, Eide Bailly LLP, Yellowstone Surgery Center, Wipfli LLP; Kibler & Kirch, Stapleton Gallery, and many others.

Docent 2nd Saturday: Art for Kids

Saturday, March 11, 2017, 10 a.m.–12 p.m.

Ages 5-12

$6 members, $7 non-members

“A Spot to Sketch”– Construct and design your own sketchbook and start to fill it with sketches of work found in and around the museum. Registration opens 1 week prior to each class. Contact Berenice Munson at 406-256-6804 x232 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FAM at the YAM

Friday Family Fun Night

Friday, March 17, 2017, 5–7 p.m.

$6 member child, $7 non-member child

Free member adults, $3 non-member adult

No registration required. All ages are welcome.

Join in on this opportunity for the whole family to come and make art together! Session taught by local artists. Come and go between 5 – 7 p.m.

Opening Reception for Exhibitions

Thursday, March 23, 2017, 5:30 -7:30 p.m.

Free for members; regular admission for non-members

Three new exhibitions open this evening!  Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: In the Footsteps of My Ancestors, Archaea: Rosane Volchan O’Conor, and Art in Action: Marking Time will be on view for the first time.  Meet the artists and put your mark on the wall early in Art in Action: Marking Time.

Doodling with Beads: The Art of Bead Embroidery

Saturday, March 25, 2017, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

$60 for members; $67 for non-members

This Experience Art Adult Education workshop is led by artist Susan Germer. Susan will teach a variety of sewing techniques using a colorful assortment of beads and fabric, and will help you create your own unique work of art. For more information and to sign-up, call the museum front desk at 406-256-6804 or visit us online at

April Events and Programs:

Dollar Day

Saturday, April 1, 2017, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

Yellowstone Art Museum

Admission is free for members or $1 for all others the first Saturday of every month.

Environmental Intimacies in Rosane Volchan O’Conor’s Artwork

Gallery talk by Dr. Leanne Gilbertson of MSU Billings

Thursday, April 6, 2017, 6:30–7:30 p.m.

Murdock Gallery

Dr. Leanne Gilbertson, Assistant Professor of Art History and the Northcutt Steele Gallery Director at Montana State University Billings, will discuss Rosane Volchan O’Conor’s immersive installation, Archaea, will be on view in the Bair Family Gallery. The talk will place the artist’s concerns in context with compelling contemporary art movements.

Sam and Judy McDonald Foundation Free Day

Saturday, April 8, 2017, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

Free museum admission for everyone all day. There will also be a free children’s art activity from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.

Know Your Rights: Copyright and Intellectual Property Rights for Artists

Legal information session

Thursday, April 20, 2017, 6:30–7:30 p.m.

Murdock Gallery, Yellowstone Art Museum

An information session designed for all artists, writers, and makers.  Attorneys Bob Griffin, Shalise Zobel, and Isaac Potter from Crowley Fleck PLLP and Billings attorney Jennifer L. Webber of WEBBERpllc will share what you need to know to protect your work.  Sponsored by the Intellectual Property Section of the State Bar of Montana.

After 5–Unplugged

Thursday, April 27, 2017, 5–8 p.m.

New event! “After 5–Unplugged” blends new music, drinks, and art in one of the finest sites in Billings—the YAM! This event will feature live music by Ed Kemmick and The Peach Pickers.


EXHIBITION SEASON SPONSORS: David Orser and Ossie Abrams, and U.S. Bank

 Boundless Visions: Selections from the Permanent Collection

Exhibition is ongoing

The discoveries made by local artists are not always in the history books!  Gain insight into the art of our region by visiting Boundless Visions.  Selections that allude to the land, to the tenacity of those who work here, and to the many and diverse connections that exist are on view every day.

TITLE SPONSORS: David Orser and Ossie Abrams

 Art Auction 49

January 19, 2017–March 4, 2017

Montana, Charles M. Bair Family, and Northwest Projects galleries

The Yellowstone Art Museum’s Art Auction was the region’s first and continues to be the area’s finest and most exciting auction of contemporary regional art. The Annual Art Auction is the YAM’s largest fundraising event, generating proceeds in support of exhibitions and educational programming for the entire year.

Save the date for the Art Auction 49 event on Saturday, March 4, 2017!

 Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: In the Footsteps of My Ancestors

March 23–July 16, 2017

Montana Gallery

This is the first major solo exhibition of Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s work in her native state of Montana in over a generation.  In keeping with the YAM’s Montana Masters series goals, Smith is a mature, late-career artist with extraordinary aesthetic, intellectual, and curatorial achievements to her credit.  The evolution of her lifelong investigations is a cornerstone of this exhibition.

Art in Action: Marking Time

March 23–August 6, 2017

NW Projects Gallery

Make your own mark at the YAM as we continue with the second in a series of participatory exhibitions, Art in Action, designed to activate and demonstrate museum visitors’ curiosity and creativity. Visitors will leave their marks on the walls of the YAM’s Northwest Projects Gallery, signifying their presence in the world of imagination. Participants may choose to visit over and over in order to interact with the marks left behind by others.

Archaea: Rosane Volchan O’Conor

March 23–August 6, 2017

Charles M. Bair Family Gallery

Rosane Volchan O’Conor will present a unique installation inspired by the Yellowstone’s history and micro-biome. Using “archaea”—microscopic organisms that survive in extreme environments—as a focal point, the artist’s immersive installation will be suggestive of these forms crawling off the walls, hanging crystalized in space, and mutating into clusters across the floor.  Using a variety of conventional and unconventional materials, O’Conor will transform the YAM’s gallery into a miniature universe.