Montana Public Radio

Native Americans

In Ronan, Montana.
Tailyr Irvine

Dating in small-town Montana can be tough. For Native Americans, a government-imposed tribal enrollment system dating back to the 1900's has made the dating pool even more complicated.

Salish and Kootenai photojournalist Tailyr Irvine explores the ties and binds of love and identity in “Reservation Mathematics,” an exhibit showing at the Smithsonian through October. The 2019 National Geographic Explorer and We, Women artist spoke with YPR News' Kaitlyn Nicholas about her exhibit and work.

The most recent data analysis this week by Montana’s Department of Health and Human Services revealed more about COVID-19’s impact on Native Americans. 

Last weekend, Montana saw its biggest spike yet in COVID-19 cases. YPR reports how the disease is impacting Native Americans across the state.

Shonda Buchanan can tell a story like no other. Her writing pulls at the thread of truth with deep compassion, grace, and humor. In this conversation, she shares what it means to be Black Indian both within intimate family relations as well as in the broader cultural and historical contexts. Her work is prescient and her voice is disarming: “This is our country and we have a right to stay. We have a right to be here and we have a right to fight. . . For me, writing is fighting.”

Cheryl Eagle (L) with Indian People's Action, and Geoff Gallus (R) with the Butte Area Rising Coalition, comfort Miki Chessmore (M), who's house was spray painted with racial slurs in early June. June 15, 2019.
Nora Saks

Over the weekend, the Butte community rallied in response to an incident in early June where a resident’s home was vandalized with racial slurs targeting Native Americans.

Vanessa Fields, planning team leader for the National Bison Range, presenting at the public meeting in Polson May 1, 2019.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio


The latest step in a years-long process laying out the future of the National Bison Range Monday night dredged up questions of race and public land ownership that have lingered since a failed 2016 proposal to transfer the refuge to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. 

Screenshot https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELhn51G0Xwc

Food and medication distribution and substance abuse counseling programs for Native Americans are being put on hold due to the federal government shutdown, panelists told members of the U.S. House Tuesday.

Aaron Payment, a board member of the National Congress of American Indians, testified before Democratic members of the House at the D.C. hearing.

"This is a crisis like we’ve never seen," said Payment.

Sen. Jennifer Gross. sponsored Senate Bill 144, which would update laws dealing with stalking and restraining orders. File photo.
Montana Legislature

Native Americans who have been incarcerated in Montana need more help finding housing and re-entering their communities. That’s the premise of a bill introduced in the Montana Senate Friday.

Sign saying "Welcome to Blackfeet Indian Country."
Will Marlow (CC-BY-NC-2)

The U.S. Census Bureau is starting to hire workers to complete the 2020 enumeration that will determine  billions of dollars in funding to the state and whether Montana receives a second seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

However, new data gathering methods may make it harder for some people living on Native American reservations and some rural areas to be counted.

Native Americans in the Billings-area now can use a clinic tailored to their needs. The Billings Urban Indian Health and Wellness Clinic fills the void after the abrubt closure of a clinic 18 months ago by the Indian Health Board of Billings.

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