Montana Public Radio

Sharon Stewart-Peregoy

The third bill in a package meant to address the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons crisis in Montana was signed into law Thursday.

Members of Montana’s American Indian Caucus along with family members of Selena Not Afraid, a Crow teenage girl who was found dead in January 2020, gathered for a signing ceremony at the Governor’s office.

“We're here not just because of Selena but Selena told me, ‘Don't stop, because there's other girls standing behind me,'” said Cheryl Horn, a prominent MMIW advocate and the aunt of Selena Not Afraid.

Rep. Sharon Greef, Governor Greg Gianforte, and Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen are pictured at the HB 176 bill signing, April 19, 2021.
Gov. Gianforte's office

Gov. Greg Gianforte signed several bills into law this week, including policies to end same-day voting registration and change voter ID requirements; limit local public health powers; expand telehealth access; give businesses tax breaks for vocational training; allow insurance companies to consider gender when setting rates; address the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous people; and update state laws after federal recognition of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

The "beast bill" heads to the Senate. The attorney general sues over restrictions on the use of federal COVID relief money. Montana could lose millions in federal education money because of a bill banning transgender students from participating in women's sports. A bill to make it easier for Native Americans to vote is killed. And a progressive blogger ends his long run as an influential gadfly.

Listen now on Capitol Talk with Sally Mauk, Rob Saldin and Holly Michels.

Montana lawmakers have advanced a first draft spending plan for more than $2 billion coming to the state from the latest federal stimulus package. Republicans are seeking to limit funding to cities and counties with some public health restrictions, like mask mandates, in place.

Lawmakers Hear Montana Native American Voting Rights Act

Feb 28, 2021

Montana lawmakers heard passionate testimony Friday on a bill seeking to increase Native American voting rights and access to the polls.

Correction: A previous version of this story identified the speaker interrupting Passieri as Wildlife Committee Chair Republican Ross H. Fitzgerald. Seth Berglee, another Republican on the committee, was the one speaking. YPR News regrets the error.

Montana lawmakers heard impassioned testimony this week on a bill that would allow non-tribal members to hunt on privately owned lands within Native American reservations.

Over 100 paper bag luminaries lined the back of a conference room in Pablo, MT Aug. 27, 2019. The luminaries represent missing and murdered indigenous Montana women dating back to the early 1900s.
Aaron Bolton / Montana Public Radio

Three bills aimed at addressing the disproportionate number of Native Americans who go missing in Montana have been endorsed by the state House of Representatives. The legislation builds on work that began last session.

The Session Week 3: MMIP, COVID-19 and Capitol Safety

Jan 18, 2021

The Session Week 3: MMIP, COVID-19 and Capitol Safety

As of Jan. 15, 296 bills have been introduced and none have been signed into law. This week, we're watching how lawmakers are proposing to change the role of public health officials, how the state is addressing missing Indigenous persons, and how the riot in D.C. could have ripple effects in Montana.

Following the election, ten Native Americans have won their races and will be serving in Montana’s legislature. This is fewer Indigenous representatives than last session.

Montana remains one of the few states whose legislature has racial parity, meaning the makeup of the legislature is proportional to the racial makeup of the state. Next year, members of the Montana American Indian Caucus will account for nearly seven percent of the state legislature, which, according to the 2010 Census, is almost exactly the same percentage of Native Americans living in Montana.

Community leaders reviewed COVID-19’s disproportionate impact to Indigenous people across Montana during a virtual roundtable on Sept. 23. They also considered ways to improve health outcomes among tribal members.

Democratic state Rep. Sharon Stewart Peregoy of Crow Agency lamented the rise of COVID-19 cases in tribal communities after Montana began reopening in June, during the panel discussion hosted by Protect our Care Montana

“It’s a tsunami impact upon our people across the nation,” Peregoy said.