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Daily Montanan

Old Person deserves recognition, memorial highway

By Clark Swan,


Earl Old Person courtesy of Blackfeet Nation/Blackfeet Tribal Business Council Facebook page

Chief Earl Old Person deserves consideration for a Memorial Highway in Montana.

Sen. Theresa Manzella states that the rodeo grounds in Browning are already named after the Chief–honoring his tribal name.

The typical tourist travelling through Montana is not experiencing the rodeo grounds in Browning–but would become acquainted with Chief Old Person if his namesake was in place on a Montana Highway. And adding to the politicization of tabling the bill, Sen. Barry Usher, R-Billings, states that it is his “core belief” that the honor only belongs to individuals in the military or law enforcement.

Sadly,  Usher brings his core beliefs from Baltimore–where he was originally in law enforcement–his core beliefs do not represent Montanans. As a freshman senator several years ago, Usher tried to float a bill outlawing “cyclists, and wheelchairs” from the secondary roads of Montana.

That didn’t get very far, thankfully, because Montana is a destination for touring cyclists who travel from border to border contributing to the small town, rural economies.

I suspect his ultimate goal was to clear the backroads for all his Harley buds after he purchased a local Billings Harley dealership. It has become wearisome to see all the out-of-state “core values” take root in Montana.

Let’s Put Chief Earl Old Person on a highway with Indigenous history.

After all, First Peoples were here in Montana more than 12,000 years ago.

Swan is a business owner who lives in Billings.

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