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Lawmakers OK Highway 89 memorial for Blackfeet Chief Earl Old Person

 Earl Old Person
Earl Old Person

A bill creating a highway memorial for the country’s longest-serving elected tribal leader has reached the desk of Montana’s Governor.

Senate Bill 120 would dedicate a two-mile section of U.S. Highway 89 in Browning to Chief Earl Old Person. Old Person led the Blackfeet Nation for over 40 years.

Rep. Tyson Running Wolf, a Democrat from Browning, told the state House of Representatives that the chief was his hero.

“This is what I would say is an understatement of what we should be doing for Earl Old Person,” he said. “We should have a mural of that man in this Capitol and maybe someday I’ll bring that. But, for now, this is what we need to do.”

Old Person became the Blackfeet chief in 1978, advocating for the education and preservation of tribal culture until his death in 2021. He also reportedly met every president since Dwight Eisenhower, the British Royal Family and the Shah of Iran.

The bill received wide bipartisan support in the Legislature and awaits action from Gov. Greg Gianforte.

Copyright 2023 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Victoria Traxler