Betty N. Cooper met with Montana Senator Jon Tester in his Capital Hill office in the Hart Building on Tuesday, April 30. “As Montana Mother of the Year, I told him, ‘In my Montana Mother of the Year award, I cordially requested for all Montana mothers and grandmothers to stand with me as I received this award. You are all hard working, loving mothers and grandmothers. You, too, are the unsung heroes taking care of your families; you are the heart and spirit of your family. Today and every day I say Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Grandmother’s Day.’” 

On her trip to Washington, D.C., as Montana Mother of the Year, Betty N. Cooper met and got to know all 49 mothers from the rest of the states. Each one was given the opportunity to address the others and make whatever points they desired. Cooper said, “Most of us were crying over the mothers’ speeches. They had overcome all sorts of problems like domestic violence, and they told how they took care of their families…I just marveled at all of them.”

In Betty’s speech, she emphasized issues facing Montana mothers and grandmothers with the following address.

“As Montana Mother of the Year, I am listing a few of the needs and concerns of the mothers and grandmothers of the state of Montana.

“In Montana, the cost of living has skyrocketed, especially over the last two decades. Everyday working men and women’s wage increases have not matched the high cost of living. Our families, children and communities are suffering from inadequate funds to feed; clothe; shelter; pay utilities, rent or mortgage; make auto payments and pay medical costs. This all deters families to care for themselves, their children, families and community. Several U.S. states and Montana have the lowest wage scale in the nation.

“The high cost of medical health care has severely limited Montana citizens of meeting their health care needs. Many Montana citizens go without health care, and others are deeply in debt with medical bills. The answer is to file bankruptcy and forever have a bad credit status.

“The unemployment rate for the Blackfeet Indian Reservation is 70 percent, and for Montana the rate is 15 percent. The need for jobs, employment and job training is at an all-time high. This has a devastating effect on the mothers and grandmothers and all their families and community.

“Montana, like all the U.S., suffers from:

1. High crime rate. On the 12 Indian communities and Reservations the cross-jurisdiction of law enforcement leaves citizens without protection. Non-natives cannot be prosecuted on the reservation. To the non-Indian, they see the reservation as territory without any law.

2. The alcohol, drug, prescription, meth, opiates, pharmaceutical black market abuse and manufacturing has Montana rural and urban areas in the deepest addiction, homicide and suicide. Montana families and all citizens are not safe. The mothers and grandmothers with their families do not go out after dark. The children cannot play outside even in the daytime.

3. The United States and Montana’s missing and murdered women, men and youth/children are at epidemic proportions. It is a known fact that sex trafficking of the missing and murdered goes unpunished, undetected, and no response to search thoroughly known locations where the victims are being held, used, abused and murdered.”

Cooper received the JCPenney Golden Rule Award, one of six women to be so recognized. She said she intends to use it to create scholarships for students in 2020.

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