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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Capitol briefs: The history of Indian boarding schools; anti-abortion bill passes

Montana Capitol dome
Ellis Juhlin
Montana Capitol dome

Resolution to recognize the history of American boarding schools passes Legislature
Montana Public Radio | By Ellis Juhlin

Montana’s Legislature has passed a joint resolution recognizing the history of American Indian boarding schools and calling on the U.S. government to create a national day of remembrance.

Democratic Rep. Tyson Running Wolf, a member of the Blackfeet Nation, sponsored the resolution in the House to officially acknowledge the trauma of boarding schools.

“They suffered physical, sexual, cultural and spiritual abuse and neglect and experienced treatment that in many cases constitute torture,” Running Wolf said. “For speaking their Native language, many children never returned home, and their fates have yet to be accounted for by the U.S. government.”

On the House floor Wednesday, Running Wolf read off a list of 13 children from tribes across Montana who died at the Fort Shaw Industrial Indian School, an hour east of Helena.

“The school was opened between 1892 and 1910. The youngest to attend the boarding school was 4 years old,” Running Wolf said.

Senate Joint Resolution 6 passed with bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

In 2021, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland launched an investigation into the country’s past assimilation policies, which included the forced removal of Native American children from their families and tribes, placing them in Indian boarding schools.

That ongoing investigation found 18 boarding schools operated in Montana.


Bill to eliminate legal protection for abortion heads to the governor
Montana Public Radio | By Shaylee Ragar

A proposal aiming to eliminate legal protection for abortion is headed to the governor for consideration after passing the Montana Legislature along party lines.

Senate Bill 154 would create a law saying that the state’s right to privacy does not protect the right to terminate a pregnancy as the Montana Supreme Court ruled in 1999. The ruling has been used to overturn restrictions on abortion over the last two decades.

Proponents of the bill say Montana’s right to privacy applies to individuals, and that fetuses also deserve autonomy. Opponents say the authority to interpret the Constitution lies only with the courts and that the bill is an overreach.

Republican lawmakers have proposed about a dozen bills aiming to restrict access to abortion this session. Gov. Greg Gianforte signed several anti-abortion bills into law in 2021, and those are tied up in court.

Ellis Juhlin is MTPR's Rocky Mountain Front reporter. Ellis previously worked as a science reporter at Utah Public Radio and a reporter at Yellowstone Public Radio. She has a Master's Degree in Ecology from Utah State University. She's an average birder and wants you to keep your cat indoors. She has two dogs, one of which is afraid of birds.
Shaylee covers state government and politics for Montana Public Radio. Please share tips, questions and concerns at 406-539-1677 or  
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