I am a fourth generation Montanan and a student at Montana State University. I care deeply about our state legislature because its impacts are so significant in Montanans’ lives.
This session Representative Windy Boy has introduced House Bill 338, and I worry that the bill’s importance may fall to the wayside without public engagement.
House Bill (HB) 338 proposes amendments to Montana’s policies on Indian Education for All (IEFA). IEFA was established to ensure that Montanans receive quality education on Montana culture and acknowledge our seven tribal reservations and twelve federally recognized tribes. IEFA is consistent with claims throughout the Montana constitution that center educational goals around the preservation of the cultural integrity of our Indigenous peoples.
I grew up in Montana under the IEFA act and near the Apsaalooke nation, yet my education on Native history was severely lacking. This was because IEFA was created with no mechanisms to enforce its operations and without the continual contribution of Native peoples’ voices. I realized all I was missing when I took a Native American Studies class at MSU, and I would have already considered myself someone who was passionate about Native history, yet I knew so little.
My knowledge needed to be supplemented by education formed with Native knowledge at the center of it. HB 338 would provide enforcement mechanisms to track spending and progress in schools to ensure that we are making good on our promises. I encourage support of this bill, for the continued educational good of Montanans.