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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Tribal leaders present budget priorities to Congress

Several tribal leaders from Montana presented their priorities for the next federal budget. They spoke in front of a congressional budget committee this week.

Representatives of three Montana tribes testified to their need for more funding for social services, including Jeffrey Stiffarm, President of the Fort Belknap Indian Community.

“We’re not asking for a hand out, we’re asking for a hand up. We’re the first people of this country, yet we’re still treated like second hand citizens,” Stiffarm said.

Stiffarm was joined by leaders of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes and the Fort Peck tribes in testimony in front of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. The committee is chaired by Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke.

Priorities highlighted by the tribes included funding for increased law enforcement and emergency services, increases to the Indian Health Service to provide more mental health and addiction treatments, housing and firefighting resources.

John joined the Montana Public Radio team in August 2022. Born and raised in Helena, he graduated from the University of Montana’s School of Media Arts and created the Montana history podcast Land Grab. John can be contacted at
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