Opinion

Shawn White Wolf: Urban Indians contribute to city's history





Shawn White Wolf reflects on the contributions of urban Indians to life in Helena, Montana:
Over the past 150 years of Helena, local American Indians have contributed in many ways shaping who we have become as a community today in Helena. There have been book authors, legal experts, community and social activists, to leaders in politics. Many tribal chiefs have found Helena warm and inviting in their retirement years.

Helena is home of the first urban Indian health clinic. Founded by local Indian families, the Helena Indian Alliance/Leo Pocha Clinic has been the guiding force behind the health care of millions of urban Indians nationwide for more than 40 years. Even this past year, the HIA stood tall before Congress respectively calling for more funding to help locally and nationally. These defining moments often go unnoticed by local media, but the long-term effects have been priceless.

For more than 30 years, the Indian Law Resource Center has been based in Helena. The law center has fought to protect American Indian woman, pushed the United States to accept an American Declaration of Indigenous Rights and been key players in many other important cases. The impact on all of us, Indian or non-Indian, has helped our society establish a path to a brighter future.

Since the early 1970s, the Montana United Indian Association has helped local Indians buy much-needed work clothes, pay for work training or attend college. Every year, we invest thousands of dollars into Helena to help Indians find that dream of becoming self-sufficient and self-determining. Our clients have gone on to become nurses, law enforcement officers, construction workers, EMTs, business professionals and even actors.

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Shawn White Wolf: Indian community’s contribution to Helena’s history (The Helena Independent Record 2/10)