Hanna Powell and Merle, her 1.5 year old rescue. PHOTO COURTESY HANNA POWELL

Tenacity and talent

A challenging childhood created the strength needed for success

Hanna Powell was euphoric after performing, “Always Remember Us This Way,” by Lady Gaga at the Warren Miller Performing Arts (WMPAC) concert called “Her Gift Her Creation.” 

She said she chose it because it was a song that demanded she put her entire heart into. The packed house at WMPAC responded to her performance with lively applause. 

Afterward she said she was honored to be a part of the show. She was able to get to know talented women in Big Sky from all walks of life as they came together to celebrate the heart and soul of being women. 

In her own life, she celebrates her “really amazing mom who worked her ass off.” 

After her father, who had been a ranch manager in Pony, died of cancer when she was 7 years old, her mother was left with one older kid, three little children and no college degree. 

“She balanced two to three jobs and always kept food on our table and showed-up at our basketball games,” she said. “She was a really strong lady and definitely showed us perseverance and just made us who we are.” 

Powell feels lucky to have supportive siblings as well. Growing-up in poverty in a small town meant being typecast she explained. People did not expect much from the Powell children. 

“We gained this ferocity and determination to be seen differently amongst our peers. It was tough growing up in a small town and having those judgements, but if anything, it makes you stronger and it just makes you just hungrier to make something different for yourself,” she said. 

When she graduated from high school, she initially thought she wanted to move to Los Angeles or New York City – as far away from Montana as possible. Then she traveled a bit and realized Montana was not so bad after all. 

After one semester in Missoula, she ventured to Big Sky to take a semester off from college in 2006. She did not leave until 2014 – when she traveled to San Francisco to pursue becoming a hairstylist. She stayed for her schooling and to get some experience before booking it back to Big Sky. While the big city was fun, the lack of ease to outdoor pursuits was tiresome. She did not want to drive for hours to the mountains, she wanted the Big Sky life – where she could simply walk out her front door. 

“We’re really spoiled. It’s so nice,” she said. 

Her “super tough” mother who is the hardest worker she has ever known gave her the strength to open her own salon in Big Sky – Tribe Salon. 

Like many people who have spent years in Big Sky, being here is about more than outdoor pursuits or mountain vistas. She noted that is it remarkable how people come together for one another in the community. 

“You don’t necessarily even know all of them. I feel like there is a kinship in this community that is really cool. If it could be modeled all over the world, it would be really beautiful,” she said. 

As Big Sky grows, the thought of how it will change is daunting, she pointed-out. 

“I just really hope that we can hold on to that small town unity we have had for so long,” she said. 

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Lone Peak Lookout

Cori Koenig, editor: editor@lonepeaklookout.com
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