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The latest Montana politics, elections and Legislature news.

Montana lawmaker calls for state recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day

State Sen. Shane Morigeau talks to a reporter before a celebration of Indigenous Peoples' Day at the Missoula County Courthouse on October 11, 2021.
Freddy Monares
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State Sen. Shane Morigeau talks to a reporter before a celebration of Indigenous Peoples' Day at the Missoula County Courthouse on October 11, 2021.
Updated: October 12, 2021 at 3:05 PM MDT
Updated with a response from the governor's office.

A Democratic state senator is calling on Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte to issue an executive order to implement Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

The request comes after President Joe Biden became the first president to issue a proclamation commemorating Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Standing on the steps of the Missoula County Courthouse Monday, state Sen. Shane Morigeau again called for a renaming of the day that he says signifies violence and mistreatment of Indigenous people.

“We have to change the laws in Montana, and I would encourage and challenge our governor to take efforts to implement Indigenous Peoples’ Day through an executive order.”

Morigeau, a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, says he hasn’t formally asked Gianforte to issue the executive order. The Governor’s Office says Montana holidays must come from the legislative process. Montana recognizes American Indian Heritage Day in September, which Gianforte celebrated.

Attempts to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples' Day in Montana have failed in recent legislative sessions.

According to Indian Country Today, Montana ranks number four in states with the largest American Indian and Alaska Native population, with more than 6%.

Alaska, New Mexico and South Dakota each have a higher Indigenous population than Montana and have previously enacted laws recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day in place of Columbus Day.