‘Leiser’s Footsteps’ – How Jewish immigrants helped build Montana

Leiser's Footsteps

The idea for Leiser’s Footsteps, which will debut at the new Missoula Public Library in the fall and plans to eventually expand to incorporate other parts of Montana, came in response to anti-Semitic flyers found on the University of Montana campus and near Missoula churches in 2018. This leafleting was part of an ongoing trend of White Nationalist activity directed at the state, which began in 2016 after Daily Stormer publisher Andrew Anglin alleged that a Jewish realtor had forced alt-right figure Richard Spencer’s mother into selling her Whitefish, Mont. home.

“I think it’s the ignorance of those people,” Paul Kingsford said of Anglin and his confederates, who planned a march on Whitefish in 2017, but were foiled by local opposition. “They come out here and think it’s this pure white, it’s white people that built this. Err, wrong. Sorry, dude.”

“At the turn of the last century, Montana was a more diverse state than it is today,” Chessin said. “There were the Chinese that came because of the railroads, there was an African American community because of the mines. There was a strong community from Finland and Eastern Europe — Serbia, Croatia, and the Irish. The history of people who were the outsiders coming in is an interesting one here.”


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