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2024 Montana Primary elections

Montana Native Lawmakers Defend Critical Race Theory, Indian Education For All Act

Indigenous lawmakers are defending the use of critical race theory in Montana public schools. State officials recently criticized the concept, which says systematic racism is woven into American life and law.

In a written statement, nine Democratic members of the Montana American Indian Caucus wrote that critical race theory allows teachers to present diverse voices, fight historical inaccuracies and promote racial equity.

Democratic state Sen. Susan Webber is a member of the Blackfeet Tribe and the Senate Education and Cultural Resources Committee.

“If we don’t tell the truth, then what good is history? There’s two sides of this story. We can’t continue to whitewash history just for convenience or so people won’t look bad,” Webber said.

The statement says that parts of critical race theory are already found in Montana curriculum due to the state’s Indian Education For All Act, passed in 1999.

The statement says critical race theory informs lessons about the Trail of Tears, the boarding school era and the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous people.

Republican state Attorney General Austin Knudsen last week issued an opinion claiming state and federal law prohibit schools from using parts of critical race theory in curriculum.

In response to a proposed federal educational program, Republican state Superintendent Elsie Arntzen recently called critical race theory “radical propaganda.”

Copyright 2021 Yellowstone Public Radio

Kevin is a UM Journalism graduate student and reporter for MTPR.
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