‘We are invisible, but we are here': Montana Constitution includes mandate to teach about American Indians

Phil Drake

“The state recognizes the distinct and unique cultural heritage of American Indians and is committed in its educational goals to the preservation of their cultural integrity.”

Article X, Section 1, Clause 2, Montana State Constitution, 1972

While likely supported with the best of intentions by the 1972 Constitutional Convention, it took another 33 years for Indian Education for All to officially take hold in Montana schools, speakers said Thursday at a discussion on “Indian Education and the 1972 Montana Constitution.” 

Delegates at the Constitutional Convention now celebrating its 50th year, included a unique mandate into the document to teach in the classroom about American Indians. This commitment was reaffirmed by the state Legislature in 1999 with the passage of Indian Education for All, said organizers of Thursday’s panel, which was moderated by Mike Jetty and featured Carol Juneau and Joyce Silverthorne.

Juneau, an enrolled member of the Mandan and Hidatsa tribes and the first president of the Blackfeet Community College from 1976 to 1983, is a retired legislator and educator. Silverthorne was director of the Office of Indian Education in D.C. from 2012 through 2016 and served as director of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes educational department from

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