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Heart Butte, Montana | SATB Chorus & Treble Soloist | 7'

Dale Trumbore met poet M. L. Smoker in April 2022, when they were both Artists in Residence at Ucross Foundation in Clearmont, Wyoming. Smoker's poem embodies a landscape that initially appears unforgiving, but ultimately offers a chance to find a way home—“to become bird, tree, water again.” The town of Heart Butte is located on the southern border of Montana's Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

Read more about Smoker's poem here.


Heart Butte, Montana was commissioned by Choral Arts Initiative, Brandon Elliott, Artistic Director, and will premiere at the 2024 Western ACDA conference. This work is dedicated to CAI, with gratitude to soloist Genie Hossain.

This piece is is recorded on Choral Arts Initiative's album Tapestry of Becoming. Preview or purchase Heart Butte, Montana through Graphite Marketplace

Similar to Heart Butte, Montana:

After the Storm Passes

I Was Born



The unsympathetic wind, how she has evaded me for years now,

leaving a guileless shell and no way to navigate. Once when I stood

on a plateau of earth just at the moment before the dangerous,

jutting peaks converged upon the lilting sway of grasslands, I almost

found a way back. There, the sky, quite possibly all the elements,

caused the rock and soil and vegetation to congregate. Their prayer

was not new and so faint I could hardly discern. Simple remembrances,

like a tiny, syncopated chorus calling everyone home: across

a thousand eastward miles, and what little wind was left at my back.

But I could not move. And then the music was gone.

All that was left were the spring time faces of mountains, gazing down,

their last patches of snow, luminous. I dreamed of becoming snow melt,

gliding down the slope and in to the valley. With the promise,

an assurance, that there is always a way to become bird, tree, water again.


—M. L. Smoker. "Heart Butte, Montana" from New Poets of Native Nations

Copyright © 2018 by M. L. Smoker. Reprinted by permission of M. L. Smoker.

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