Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

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Intimate Strangers: The Interlocking Histories of Butte, Montana, and Chuquicamata, Chile

By Janet Finn

Download and read the article in PDF format.


The working class


Manipulation and exploitation

Geographical comparisons

Labor unions

The politics of natural resource development

Geopolitics and transnational history



1) Make lists of similarities and differences between the Anaconda Copper Mining Company sites in Butte and Chuquicamata.

2) What "sparked" a demand for copper in the late 1800's?

3) What prompted the formation of unions in Butte?

4) What was the "rustling card system?"

5) Who was Frank Little and what happened after he died?

6) What happened as a result of the end of World War I?

7) What did ACM do in Chile to influence national politics?

8) What actions did the Chilean and American governments take to support social and economic recovery in their respective nations?

9) According to the author, what was ACM "ultimately successful" in doing?

10) How did ACM's international status effect its workers in Butte and Chuquicamata? How does globalization effect workers today?

11) How did its status as "a transnational corporation" help ACM?

12) Can ACM's globalization industry be compared with today's multinational companies?


- Visit the World Museum of Mining and discover what life was like in an 1899 mining camp.

- Conduct science experiments using copper and other metals as electricity conductors.

- Divide students into two groups. Have students research the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), one group pro-NAFTA and the other anti-NAFTA, and have a class debate. Introduce the possibility of a compromise and see if they can draft one.

- Investigate the use of "strikes" by other labor unions in American History. Use primary sources. Evaluate how successful the strike tactic was in a particular labor dispute.

- Examine Montana newspapers for coverage of the 1934, 1959, and 1967 strikes. Look at the Montana Standard (Butte), the Eye-Opener (Butte), and the People's Voice (Helena) for a comparison. What do the articles say about Montana journalism?

- Interview a miner who used to work for the Anaconda Company about what is was like when the mines in Butte were competing against the mines in Chuquicamata. Many of these men still live in the Butte area and can offer interesting oral histories about the Anaconda Company, the competition and exchanges between the two cities, and the labor strikes.