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City Desk

MT cities replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day

Big Sky Connection
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Eric Tegethoff
October 14, 2019
BOZEMAN, Montana - Four Montana cities join cities and states across the country Monday to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day in place of Columbus Day.
The move is significant for Native American communities because Christopher Columbus' voyage set off atrocities inflected on the people living in North America.
Holly Old Crow, a Montana State University student organizing the Indigenous Peoples Day celebration in Bozeman, says the day commemorates native people's culture and history while also emphasizing their present day vibrance.
"Kind of a reminder and recognition that natives are not something of history or in the past that no longer exist anymore, but through that resiliency and determination and survivability, they're still here today, and that culture and identity and history is as alive as it was then," she stresses.
Bozeman and Missoula have recognized Indigenous Peoples Day since 2016.
Helena and Harlem, a city near the Fort Belknap Reservation, joined them with resolutions this year.
Earlier this year, the Montana House passed a bill to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day, but the effort died in the Senate.
Nationwide, eight states and more than 100 cities have made the change.
Old Crow says the Bozeman event kicks off with a march for missing and murdered indigenous women. She says investigations into indigenous women's disappearance suffer from a lack of resources.
"It's become a rising issue that women feel the need to speak up more about it and to request and demand those resources be allocated to native, indigenous women - and men - to get these cases solved, to give families closure to these cases, to change laws to avoid these kinds of issues," she states.
Tribal members represent 7% of Montana's population, but make up at least 26% of missing persons cases in the state.
More than 5,700 Native American women nationwide were reported missing in 2016 alone.

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