Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type



Political Science & International Relations


In the mid 1800's, Catholic Missions settled in Montana and sought to evangelize Native Americans. During this time, Catholic schools were established and this became the predominant mode of education for Native Americans. The schools relied heavily on financing from the Federal government, and when the decision to cut funding from these schools between 1896-1900, all of the Mission schools in Montana either closed or lost their significance. This thesis analyzes the different modes of thought in Congress and in interest groups from 1890-1900. This thesis argues that the National League for the Protection of American Institutions, a small but significant interest group in New York was widely responsible for this change in policy and in thought both in Congress and in State legislatures. Furthermore, this thesis argues that this change in policy confirms punctuated equilibrium theory, as this policy change was not a long evolutionary change, but a short change with a punctuated hit.