Governor Steve Bullock and members of the legislative Montana American Indian Caucus today held a ceremonial signing for five pieces of legislation focused on reporting, investigating and addressing the missing and murdered Indigenous women epidemic in Montana.
“The epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women is a moral and humanitarian crisis. Just one Montanan missing impacts countless others, including families, loved ones and entire communities. No family should have to suffer this pain,” said Governor Bullock. “It’s great we brought Democrats and Republicans together to make sure every Montana family knows they are valued equally and that we won’t rest when our sons and daughters are missing.”
The missing and murdered Indigenous women legislative package includes HB 20, HB 21, HB 54, SB 40, and SB 312.
“These Missing Murdered Bills, HB21 Hanna’s Act, HB20 Missing Children and HB54 Missing Persons send a clear message that the Montana State Legislature will not tolerate the missing, murder and trafficking of our people,” said Rep. Rae Peppers, the sponsor of several of the bills. “This was a bipartisan effort within the Legislative House that supported it wholeheartedly and through the support of the Governor’s Office, the Department of Justice, State Staff, advocates, the people of Montana and most importantly our Tribes.”
The signing ceremony also included legislation that honors Montana’s native heritage and history. Governor Bullock signed HB 524 to permanently display the flags of Montana’s eight Tribal Nations on the Montana State Capitol grounds. He also recognized three bills that create memorial highways named after Native American veterans, Louis Charles Charlo and Minnie Spotted-Wolf, and the first Native American woman elected to the Montana Legislature, Dolly Smith Akers.
“Our children and grandchildren will visit our State Capitol and see the flags of our Tribal Nations as symbols of respect and reminders of our heritage and history. These symbols of respect will extend beyond Helena through memorial highways named after extraordinary Native Americans who bravely served our state and nation, and broke down barriers in their fight for equality,” continued Governor Bullock.