MDP press conference

Left to right: Sapphire Carter, MDP Native Program Planning Committee Member; Sandi Luckey, MDP Executive Director; Donavon Hawk, MDP Treasurer and Native Program Planning Committee Member; and Alissa Snow, MDP Native Vote Director announce plans to include tribal voices into the Montana Democratic Party.

HELENA — In an unprecedented move to elevate Native voices in the Montana Democratic Party leadership pipeline, MDP announced today that it will create a Steering Committee for the Blue Bench Program, and dedicate three permanent positions on that committee to Native leaders. 

The Blue Bench Program recruits and develops community leaders into strong, competitive candidates for local office. Dedicating positions for Native leaders in driving recruitment at the grassroots level will ensure that both MDP’s leadership and grassroots reflect the regional and cultural diversity of the Montana Democratic Party. No other state party has taken such steps to prioritize Native voices in party building.

Additionally, the Montana Democratic Party announced that Representatives Deb Haaland of New Mexico and Sharice Davids of Kansas — the first two Native women elected to the United States Congress — will be headlining the MDP Platform convention following the June primary. Both Representatives serve as shining examples of the values that the Montana Democratic Party strives to uphold, and their attendance underscores MDP’s commitment to placing Native leaders at the forefront of its mission to ensure that voices across the state are heard.

“We have so many inspiring leaders in our communities, and putting Native leaders in charge of candidate recruitment will help to further elevate those voices and create progressive change for Montana,” said Tara Walker Lyons, Executive Board Member of 406 Survivors and Childhood Sexual Abuse Prevention Advocate. “This is a major step, and I’m excited for what the future holds in Indian Country, in the Montana Democratic Party, and in Montana.”

“I’m glad that the Montana Democratic Party is investing in a year-round relationship with Indian Country,” said Daniel Belcourt of Belcourt Law, legal counsel for the Fort Belknap Indian Community. “Native leaders have so much to offer Montana, and this is a major step in making sure that our voices are heard.”

“Montana has elected the most tribal members to the American Indian Caucus serving in the legislature in the nation, and we've seen the impact it has on state policy,” said Barbara Bessette, state legislator and member of the Montana American Indian Caucus. "This step will bring even more Native voices and strengthen the relationship inside the political conversation, and I have no doubt it will bring further progress to Montana."

“The Native Vote can make a difference, and we have. We just need to vote. Get your family to vote, tell your friends, relatives,” said Clarena Brockie, former state representative, Fort Belknap Assiniboine and Gros Ventre Tribes. “Let’s rock the Native vote.”

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