HELENA — Sen. Shane Morigeau introduced legislation to formally celebrate Indigenous People’s Day to recognize the contributions of Indigenous people to Montana and encourage Montanans to reflect on the state’s complex history.
Sen. Morigeau, a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, presented his bill in Senate State Administration on Wednesday. Senate Bill 146 would change the Columbus Day holiday to Indigenous People’s Day to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Indigenous people in Montana. Columbus Day celebrations have long left out the alteration and sometimes eradication of Indigenous communities and culture.
“We can ensure Montana is moving in the right direction by reflecting on and learning from the entirety of our history, even if it is at times dark and difficult,” Sen. Morigeau said. “Establishing Indigenous People’s Day seeks not to erase parts of our history, but to enrich it by encouraging Montanans to recognize the lived experiences and strength of Indigenous people and make certain we never repeat past injustices.”
Sen. Susan Webber, an enrolled member of the Blackfeet tribe, also presented Senate Bill 96 to include Indigenous People’s Day alongside Columbus Day.
Many local communities in Montana have elected to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day in place of Columbus Day. Montana would join 14 other states in celebrating Indigenous People’s Day.