Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

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Senate Bill 59

Sponsored by former State Senator Lynda Moss and former Representative Diane Sands and approved by the 2011 Legislature, Senate Bill 59 establishes the process for commissioning a new mural honoring the history of Montana women as community builders. 

The preamble to the bill eloquently describes the many contributions women have made to the history of Montana:.

“ WHEREAS, the art work decorating the Montana capitol conveys a narrative of the history of Montana and the significance of its government; and

 WHEREAS, this ground we call Montana, on which Native American women met women from Europe, Asia, and Africa, bears the marks of generations of women’s labor visible in the remains of tipi rings and homestead gardens, in the presence of one-room schools and university classrooms, in the storefronts of small businesses, and in the offices of corporations; and

 WHEREAS, we know our culture through the stories of women like Pretty Shield, Mourning Dove, Dorothy Johnson, and Mildred Walker, through the beadwork, star quilts, pasties, and povitica made by thousands of women in homes across the state, and through the dozens of languages spoken by mothers to children on reservations and in immigrant communities that formed the fabric of Montana; and

 WHEREAS, women in communities across Montana have pioneered the social institutions we now consider a part of community life because they stepped outside domestic roles to found libraries, museums, theaters, parks, playgrounds, schools, shelters, hospitals, labor unions, and social clubs; and

 WHEREAS, women in Montana fought for and won the right to vote in 1914, 6 years before the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, helped to send the first woman in American history to the U.S. Congress, have served and continue to serve in every branch of local, state, and tribal government, and have eloquently represented views across the entire spectrum of American politics; and

 WHEREAS, with few exceptions, this story of Montana’s past is not represented in the capitol’s art, and a mural commemorating Montana women’s contribution to the history and government of the state would enrich and more accurately tell Montana’s story to its citizens and visitors alike.” 

— Preamble to Senate Bill 59

Click here for the full text of Senate Bill 59. (.pdf)