The Pleiades Foundation was established in 2003 by photographer and rancher Cynthia Jane Kingston (1953-2004). Though she was born in California and lived all over, her home was indisputably, Montana. After stints in Arizona, Canada, and England Cynthia always returned to the land and community she loved. She was a passionate and accomplished horsewoman, conservationist, gardener, and community leader.
In many ways Cynthia typified the land she was such a loyal steward of – intense, beautiful, and unpredictable. She was as likely to be seen in steel-toed boots as a velvet evening gown. A lover of Rilke and an owner of a grand piano, Cynthia could usually be found in a scruffy pair of cowboy boots, digging through her toolbox. She was strong-willed to the point of being stubborn, but somehow managed to charm people as easily as horses. Cynthia’s commitment to the land went well beyond the boundaries of her own ranch. She served on the Missoula County Weed Board, and the Forest Stewardship Association Steering Committee. In 2003 she received a Distinguished Service award by the Montana Forest Owner’s Association. In the last two years of her life Cynthia founded the Pleiades Foundation to help carry forward the always unfinished work of protecting and celebrating the landscapes, ranches, and communities of the rural west.
Like everything wild and West, Cynthia’s memory perseveres on its own terms, with gusto and no small amount of verve. Going forward, with Cynthia ever-present, the trustees of The Pleiades Foundation seek to nurture her legacy of good stewardship and intense loyalty to land and community.