Who rules Bozeman?
It’s an age-old rivalry: natives vs. transplants. How do you know if someone’s a native? They’ll tell you. People who have grown up in Bozeman often lament the constant stream of newcomers, but then again, aren’t we all transplants to some degree or another? Europeans came after Native Americans, who came after the wooly mammoths who came after the T-rex, and on and on. Read on to find out who can stake the most claim to Bozeman.
Natives know and love this area, but without a less ideal geographical frame of reference—say, Arkansas—it’s easy to take Bozeman for granted. Transplants, on the other hand, are nearly giddy with the awesomeness that is Montana, and therefore may be more appreciative, even while lacking true understanding. Edge: Transplant
Native Montanans can often fly fish, ski the Bridger Ridge, field dress a deer, and carry a 50-pound pack for week—by age 10. Most transplants consider hiking Baldy an adventure. Edge: Native
For natives, an innate canine calibration decrees that anything under 40 pounds is a cat. If it’s over 40 pounds and can’t herd, hunt, or heel, it’s an overweight cat—and hungry golden eagles, coyotes, and mountain lions agree. Transplants, on the other hand, somehow think that terriers, Pomeranians, and anything with the word “miniature” in its bloodline are still dogs. Edge: Native
Natives tend to defend Montana and its virtues with the zeal of religious fanatics, while transplants are buying up subdivided 20-acre ranchettes, thus destroying the very landscape for which they all immigrated. Edge: Native
Natives might argue that they got by just fine before, but the skills, businesses, and money brought here by out-of-towners are opening economic doors (crazy inflation aside). Fewer Bozeman PhDs have to pound nails and wait tables these days, which is good for everyone. Edge: Transplant
Before the last major immigration (around the late ‘90s), one could count Bozeman’s fine-dining establishments on one hand. Today’s newcomer-fueled foodie scene may be more pricey and pretentious, but it’s better than corn dogs and Bud Light. Edge: Transplant
The first snowfall always exposes transplants as naïve newbies, when their compact cars and luxury SUVs spin sideways into the borrow pit. By contrast, natives have been driving snow streets since they were old enough to sit on a phone book and reach the steering wheel.
Score: 4 to 3
Well, Bozeman natives appear to retain their ownership of all things Montana. Of course, they’d be the first to tell you the same. But without our beloved transplants, Bozeman sure would be a boring, homogenous place. And just think, all you newbies—in a mere 25 years, you can start telling people you’re from Montana.