Growing up in Montana has been an experience I will never forget.

As a child, I remember playing in empty grain silos and spending my summers down by the Yellowstone river catching frogs and snakes. As I got older, I spent long hours harvesting what seemed like endless crops of wheat and working on farm equipment in the Blue Creek area at Newman Ranch. Once in a while, we took a welcomed break from the heat, wheat chaff, and grasshoppers and went to Crow Fair.

I had my first exposure to Native American culture — and it was nothing like the kids at school (including myself) talked about. I remember hearing the sounds and seeing the colors of a proud tribe. This is something you will never witness in a big city and every time I travel, people ask me about it.

I think that Montana’s history is important and we are in the unique position to preserve Native culture for all generations. Columbus Day has never meant anything to me but a three-day weekend. It’s just another day off for most people. Why not observe a day that highlights Montana’s history and unique culture? Why not have events in our towns and cities that will bring people from miles around?

I think it is time to revisit changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day in honor of Montana’s Native American history and culture. As a father, I would like my children to see that diversity is important in our communities.

Jeff Blatnick

Billings

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