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State of the Tribal Nations address delivered in Helena

Posted: 12:21 PM, Feb 08, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-08 14:21:44-05
Montana State Capitol
The Montana State Capitol in Helena. (MTN News photo)

HELENA – The president of the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre Tribes on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation delivered Montana’s State of the Tribal Nations address on Thursday at the capitol.

Andrew Werk, Jr. entered the House chamber shortly after a drumming and singing ceremony by three Native American women.

Werk’s speech touched on many subjects — including the importance of satellite voting sites on Montana’s reservations — and the record number of Native American legislators at this year’s session in Helena.

He also urged state lawmakers to approve the extension of Medicaid expansion, saying it has helped bring health coverage to more than 15,000- Native Americans across the state.

But Werk’s overriding message was one of working together to tackle Montana’s problems, help the vulnerable, and improve the lives of all citizens.

“Beyond the boundaries of our reservations, all across this great state, that is what binds us as Montanans. We can all acknowledge that limited resources and competing demands for those resources is a challenge,” Wenk said.

“But when we accept and embrace that we are in this together, we see beyond the challenges and challenges turn into opportunities,” he added.

Fort Belknap is Montana’s fifth-largest Indian reservation and is located west of Havre.