Charles M. Russell (1864-1926), “The Exalted Ruler,” 1912, oil on canvas. C.M. Russell Museum Collection; Gift of the Friends of the Exalted Ruler.

Charles M. Russell was made an honorary lifetime member of the Elks Lodge of Great Falls in 1908, and happily accepted as so many of his old-time acquaintances were members of the Elks. When a new temple was dedicated in 1912, the Elks asked Russell if he would contribute something for the building. The result was The Exalted Ruler which hung in the Elks Lodge in Great Falls until 1985. The painting, inscribed “To My Brothers,” with the artists’s customary signature and buffalo skull trademark, is considered to be one of Russell’s masterworks.