Montana Mud

Montana Mud has most of the time been a kitchen that serves only coffee to the public, altho they usually have a small fire and grill to cook meals for their crew. But if you ask them for coffee, the person you ask will usually reply, “We don’t have any coffee here”. Then that person will turn toward where most of the rest of the crew is working and ask, “What do we have here?” The crew will then answer in resounding voices, “MUD!”

And mud is an appropriate word, their coffee is made in the Rainbow way: take a large stainless steel pot of boiling water off of the fire and carefully pour some coffee grounds so that they float on the surface of the water, then do not stir or otherwise disturb and wait for the grounds to become saturated with water and sink to the bottom. When it is finally poured into your cup, it is almost strong enough to eat with a fork and you must be prepared for some stray grounds as you reach the bottom of your cup.

If you happen to come at a time when they have run out and are preparing a new pot, and you ask them how long it will be before it is ready, the answer will always be “twenty minutes”, no matter how near it is to being actually done.

They have been renowned for their drum circles at night. The crew has been mostly young and dressed in the blacky-khaki style, and they have a tradition that when someone joins the circle with more gray in his beard than someone who is sitting, that person should offer the guest his or her seat.

When the Forest Service supervisor refused to grant a permit and the LEOs evicted all the gatherers from the originally intended site of the annual gathering in Michigan in 2002, forcing them all to move to the eastern side of a river that ran past it, Montana Mud held out and refused to move. For a few hours the Forest Service tried to stop all deliveries of water into the gathering until they left voluntarily, but public outrage at a “town meeting” in the nearby town of Bruce Crossing persuaded them to allow them in again. Finally the LEOs approached with horses and shotguns and surrounded their camp. All were given a last chance to leave, but 13 refused, and those were arrested. Some used nonviolent civil disobedience tactics, like going limp when arrested and making it necessary for them to be carried off.

Montana Mud was started by a brother named Jimbo, who focalized the kitchen until 2002 when he passed the kitchen name onto a brother named Heybob amidst the controversy over the “West Bank” incident which resulted in the 13 arrests. Heybob eventually left the kitchen so he could raise a family, so in recent years a principal focalizer has been Useless. He left to help start Mudder Earth in 2013, and passed the Montana Mud name back to its original founder Jimbo at thanksgiving council 2012. Jimbo erected Montana Mud at the 2013 gathering, but brought the kitchen back to its roots – though Useless had focalized Montana Mud as a full-on kitchen which served food AND coffee, the kitchen at the 2013 gathering was only a coffee kitchen.

September 14th, 2016 by John Anderson