About MAS

Our Story

The Montana Archaeological Society (MAS) was founded in April, 1958 during the annual meeting of the Montana Academy of Sciences, held at Montana State University in Missoula. Francis L. Niven of Bozeman was elected the first president of the MAS and helped to promote the early ambitions of the group, namely the education and training of amateur archaeologists interested in working in the field. It was at the second meeting, held one year later at Carroll College in Helena, when the group began to discuss breaking away from the Montana Academy of Sciences altogether to officially create the MAS as a non-profit organization. MAS member Stuart Conner, a lawyer from Billings with a deep-rooted interest in archaeology, offered his services in drawing up the articles of incorporation and writing the by-laws under which the MAS would operate. In April of 1960 the Montana Archaeological Society met for the first time as a registered non-profit organization, fully independent from the Montana Academy of Sciences.

Carling Malouf and Les Davis at early Montana Archaeological Society meeting.

Founding member Carling Malouf with Les Davis at an early MAS meeting.

As a non-profit organization, the MAS sought first and foremost to encourage public interest in local and state history and to promote awareness of the unnecessary loss and destruction of that history through the construction of highways and dams, as well as the unfortunate looting of historic and prehistoric sites in the name of artifact collecting. The MAS worked hard from the beginning to utilize its membership base in lobbying the state government to protect archaeological sites by making the destruction and looting of historic or prehistoric sites punishable by law. The directors of the MAS also put a heavy emphasis on the need to establish parameters for archaeological research. The group saw the need for a standardization of educational doctrine and resources. One way the MAS decided to tackle this issue was through the publication of the journal Archaeology in Montana. The journal acted as a forum for the publication and conservation of field work and research, allowing educators and professionals, as well as students and other non-professionals, to keep up with current topics of interest in the fields of archaeology and anthropology.

Keaster site excavated by Montana Archaeological Society members.

The Keaster Site in 1969.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the mission of the Montana Archaeological Society was slowly reoriented from academia and education towards the varying roles and responsibilities of the archaeological field in a broader cultural context. With more archaeologists and anthropologists being employed by the government to oversee local and state heritage programs the question of ethics regarding the impact of archaeological research on Native American communities became a central concern. It was during this time when several professional members of the MAS decided that they needed to harness their collective interests and form a group consisting solely of professionals. It was in this way that the Montana Archaeological Association (MAA) began in 1980, working in tandem with the Montana Archaeological Society to advance the field of archaeology.

In 1996, the MAA, having never officially incorporated itself as an organization under Montana state law, elected to dissolve and to delegate all of its interests and activities to the MAS. Since the membership of both groups overlapped, the transition was smooth and the Montana Archaeological Society assumed all responsibility related to the sponsorship of Archaeology Week, as well as a more pronounced role in the political lobbying that had been such an important facet of the MAA. The two groups officially merged together after members approved the decision at their annual spring meetings in 1996.

The Montana Archaeological Society continues to meet annually to present research, discuss new trends in the field, and to elect its officers and directors. The group also continues to publish the journal Archaeology in Montana, and offers back issues of the journal which date back to its original publication in 1959.

MAS Current Board

President: Scott Dersham
(Board term ends 2026)

Vice President: Jeannie Larmon
(Board term ends 2027)

Secretary: Mike Neely
(Board term ends 2027)

Treasurer: Phyllis Green
(Board term ends 2026)

AIM Editor: Sara Scott
(Board term ends 2026)

Board Members:

Marvin Keller (term ends 2025)
Phyllis Green (term ends 2025)
Connie Constan (term ends 2025)
Dan Smith (term ends 2025)
Scott Dersham (term ends 2026)
Walt Allen (term ends 2026)
Jennifer Macy (term ends 2026)
Sara Scott (term ends 2026)
Mike Neely (term ends 2027)
Sydney Bacon (term ends 2027)
Jennie Lee (term ends 2027)
Jeannie Larmon (term ends 2027)

Education Committee Chair:
Becky Timmons

Conservation Committee Chair:
Douglas Melton
Patrick Rennie

Montana Burial Board Representative:
Weber Greiser

Webmaster: Dan Smith

Click to Download MAS ByLaws

MAS mission

Organized in 1958, membership in the Montana Archaeological Society is open to both amateur and professional archaeologists. MAS was created to stimulate interest in and promote research into the archaeology of Montana and to encourage increased public appreciation and involvement in this fascinating process.

MAS encourages a bond between professionals and non-professionals interested in Montana archaeology and works to focus all efforts into sceintific channels. The end goal is to advocate and assist in the conservation and preservation of archaeological sites and materials.

To assist in these efforts and to share the archaeology of Montana with the world, MAS publishes the biennial Archaeology in Montana journal. The primary purpose is to publish the results of archaeological research in Montana. The publication serves as a bridge between interested amateurs with professional attitudes towards archaeology and professionals who realize the value of cooperative participation by amateurs.

Freequently asked questions

How do I join MAS??

Please visit the Join MAS page and download and fill out the Membership Form and mail to the address on the form.

How do I submit an article to the AIM Journal??

Please visit the AIM Journal page under ABOUT in the main menu for details.

Who can join the MAS?

Individuals, professional or amateur and families or businesses are invited to join the Montana Archaeological Society. Please visit the Join MAS page under ABOUT in the main menu.

How does MAS help to protect our cultural heritage?

The goal of MAS is to educate the public about the importance of preserving our cultural heritage. This education takes many forms including collaboration with Native American tribes and Montana government agencies, as well as public conferences to share the collective knowledge of the archaeological and anthropological communities.

Is there a family membership?

Please visit the Join MAS page to see the membership options.

Is there a student membership?

Please visit the Join MAS page to see the membership options.