Ian Smith


Senior Historian - Missoula Office

Ian landed a job as a research historian with HRA in 2000, when one of his professors (who also happened to be the founder of HRA) plucked him away from the downtown coffee shop where he’d spent a few months as a barista, slinging coffee to several of his current coworkers after earning his BA in history and English literature. Since then, Ian returned to school while continuing to work at HRA, earning a Master’s degree in history from the University of Montana with an emphasis on environmental history, Native American history, and the history of the American West.

Ian’s MA thesis—a study of environmental and agricultural change on the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation in southeastern California—meshed well with many of his projects at HRA, where he has conducted research and writing for attorneys, tribes, and government clients on issues related to Native American history, water rights, navigability, and the history of contaminated sites. Ian has also served as an expert witness in litigation involving Indian reservation boundary issues and First Amendment disputes on U.S. Forest Service land.

After work, you can usually find Ian either playing music or enjoying the western Montana wilderness by hiking, biking, camping, or skiing with his family.