Bill would enforce constitutional mandate to teach students about Native American cultures
A bipartisan committee of Montana lawmakers agreed Friday that the state needs to tighten its rules to implement the constitutional requirement to teach students about Native American culture and history.
Montana’s Constitution is the only one in the nation to outline a commitment to teach about Indigenous cultures. A bill in the state Legislature nearing passage would change language in state law encouraging Indian education in schools into a requirement.
This comes as a lawsuit alleging failure by the state to enforce Indian Education for All moves forward after a federal judge ruled against the state’s request to dismiss the complaint.
Montana American Civil Liberties Union lobbyist Keegan Medrano told lawmakers the state has failed to uphold its constitutional mandate for 50 years.
“Robust and culturally responsive Indian Education for All remains elusive for all Montana students,” Medrano said.
Medrano said House Bill 338 could rectify that issue. The bill would mandate that the Board and Office of Public Instruction create and enforce educational standards for schools receiving Indian Education for All funding.
The proposal would also require that schools report how they use funding for Indian Education for All programs.
The bill will now return to each chamber for a final vote.