Native American heritage celebration

Native people on the Blackfeet Reservation enjoying a powwow July 2019.

History books say Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492. Columbus Day has been celebrated since 1971, but not everyone shares the same views on what October 12th really means.

Native Americans from the Blackfeet Reservation gathered for a peaceful protest in Great Falls Monday morning to speak out against years of oppression.

Rally and Host Mark Blackcrow explains why Columbus Day is an annual reminder of many years of pain and suffering, "It's an atrocity I mean the guy was a buffoon. When he landed here it was on mistake and ever since it's been a land grab. I mean not only did he rape kill and put the people in slavery when he first got here. It's a disgrace for anybody to celebrate it."

Many people believe re-naming the holiday to 'Indigenous Peoples' Day' would respect and recognize people who lived on that land from the beginning.

"We're here to stand up for our right to liberty, justice, truth, and reconciliation. We deserve that," said Brandon Fish at the rally.

For now it's up to individual cities and counties to choose which name to commemorate the day. 

Bozeman, Helena, and Missoula have officially made the switch.

According to Blackcrow, the Electric City needs to get on board, "It's 2020, come on now we've got to be doing something we've been fighting it since 1492. This is originally indigenous land."

Montana is home to 7 Indian Reservations. According to the Office of Public Instruction, close to 78,000 Montanans descend from Native American heritage. They make up at least 6.5% of our total population.

Lawmakers heard House Bill 219 during last Congressional session. The bill revises legal holidays and would establish the second Monday in October as 'Indigenous Peoples' Day.' The bill was not passed.

"The re-education of our history needs to be said. The depart, the atrocity, the genocide, said Fish."

"We're gonna keep fighting, following through," added Blackcrow. 

We've reached out to local Commissioners to find out where Cascade County stands on the holiday name change. So far we haven't heard back.

Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, New Mexico, Oregon South Dakota, and Vermont officially celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day. 

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