In Montana, American Indians make up at least 6.5% of the state’s population and constitute the state’s largest group of people of color. While the ACLU of Montana has a long history of reducing barriers to voting and addressing discriminatory treatment in the criminal justice system, we recognize that we need to do more to address systemic racial justice issues in our state. In late 2013, we laid the plans for a new Racial Justice Project. For the next two years, the Project conducted a listening tour to hear directly from tribal leaders about the civil liberties issues their communities face and to see where the ACLU might be able to help. Having had those conversations, we are now poised to tackle the identified issues in a strategic way.
While we will continue to collaborate with tribal leaders to further refine our future goals and activities, based on our conversations to date, it is likely that our work will focus on six primary themes:
- Education as a Civil Right
- Tribal Governance and Compliance with the Indian Civil Rights Act
- Voting Rights
- Criminal Justice Reform
- Reproductive Justice
- Freedom from Systemic Governmental Discrimination
This is an organization-wide project that includes time from the Executive Director, Director of Advocacy and Policy, Legal Director, Director of Philanthropy and Strategic Initiatives, and Communications Strategist. We are proud to have hired Meg Singer, a full-time community outreach liaison who is solely devoted to working on the Racial Justice Project in Indian Country.
As part of her work, Meg Singer has been collecting the stories of Indigenous people in Montana. We will be posting these stories as part of our Indigenous Voices series on the Faces of the ACLU page.