Gov. Steve Bullock will hold a signing ceremony tomorrow for a bill that will allow Native Americans to wear traditional regalia during public events, including high school graduations.
“This bill means a lot to me. It’s important that our youth are able to display their culture and their identity during monumental events, such as graduation,” says Marci McLean, the director of Western Native Voice, a nonprofit advocacy group.
“In 2012, I witnessed my at-the-time-daughter-in-law, she was forced to remove the beadwork off of her mortarboard and her and her friend were in tears during graduation, so it nearly destroyed this monumental day for these two ladies," McLean says.
Senate Bill 319, the first law of its kind in the country, passed the Montana Legislature. It protects a person’s right to wear traditional tribal regalia and objects of cultural significance during public events.
Gov. Bullock’s ceremonial bill-signing will happen tomorrow at Billings Senior High School. He will be joined by Western Native Voice, along with the Billings School Tribal Council and Billings Public Schools.
There will be a feed, Native traditional games, songs, and recognition of the students who were involved in getting the bill passed.