Montana American Indian Caucus
We Montanans are facing a choice of who would best represent us in the United States Senate for the next six years. While this choice is critical for everyone, it is absolutely foundational for Montana Indians. The federal government has a legal trust responsibility to Indian people, and congressional acts are the primary way of fulfilling this responsibility. Senator Jon Tester, a third generation farmer from Big Sandy, Montana, deeply understands this and has a strong record in this regard. This is why we support Jon Tester for United States Senate.
Senator Tester is now the Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans Committee; but when he was first elected to the United States Senate, he requested a seat on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. He went on to Chair the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and then served as the Ranking Member of that Committee. In his time in the Senate, he guided two of the largest Indian Water Settlements in history through Congress to the President’s desk. These two water settlements brought certainty to Montana water users, and a major boom to the State’s economy, while improving critical infrastructure on those reservations.
Senator Tester is dedicated to correcting injustices that tribal governments face. He stepped up for the Northern Cheyenne people and worked on legislation to restore tribal lands that were improperly taken from them. Senator Tester also secured a resolution of the long standing Cobell trust litigation which brought justice to thousands of Indian people whose assets were mismanaged by the United States. He has forged bipartisan relationships to combat domestic violence crimes in Indian Country. And because of this persistence and advocacy, Tribal governments can now prosecute serial domestic violence offenders, regardless of their race.
Senator Tester has worked to bring critically needed funds to address opioid addiction, housing, transportation, and natural resource needs throughout Indian country and in Montana. When he became ranking member on the Senate Veterans Committee, he did not leave Indian people behind. Instead, he made sure that the Committee heard from and knew about the needs of Native Veterans. Because of his work, the VA Mission Act, includes provisions that ensure that Native Veterans can receive health care at their tribal health clinics close to home and bring more doctors to Indian Country to serve Native Veterans.
Over the years, most of our caucus members have sat across a table and have had discussions with Senator Tester on important issues impacting all Montanans. One thing always holds true: When he tells you he is going to do something, he works relentlessly to fulfill his promises. He is always up-front and realistic with you about the challenges of an issue. But when he believes it’s the right thing to do, he gets it done. Senator Tester is a true statesman, and we are fortunate to have him as our Senator. For all these reasons, and many more, we support Jon Tester, a native Montanan, for the United States Senate.
Submitted by the following members of the Montana American Indian Caucus: Rep. Shane Morigeau, Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy, Sen. Frank Smith, Rep. Bridget Smith, Rep. George Kipp III, Rep. Susan Webber, Sen. Lea Whitford, Rep. Sharon Stewart-Peregoy, Rep. Rae Peppers.