Legislature gives green light to National Day of the Cowboy

May 1, 2019

Montana has joined more than a dozen other states in the nation in the designation of the National Day of the Cowboy - a watershed moment for many across the state after the Senate voted 43-7 in favor of the measure last week.

One such cowboy is Whitefish resident Ted Valentiner, who has for two years now spearheaded efforts in the state’s adoption of the day that is celebrated on the fourth Saturday of every July.

“I think every Montanan can be proud of this,” Valentiner said. “It’s a day that represents not only our past, but our present.”

Valentiner teamed up with Sen. Kenneth Bogner, R-Mile City, to help introduce Senate Joint Resolution 10.

The measure acknowledges, among other things, how “the cowboy archetype transcends gender, generations, ethnicity, geographic boundaries and political affiliations,” and how “the cowboy embodies honesty, integrity, courage, compassion, and determination,” according to the bill.

The measure zig-zagged its way through the Legislature before landing the final thumbs-up. In early April the measure was voted down on the House floor after lawmakers cited issues over inclusivity, pointing specifically to the exclusion of “cowgirl” in the title.

The rejection outraged many, including Sean Gleason, chief executive officer of the Professional Bull Riders Association, who described the decision as a “small-minded act.” Valentiner said Gelason’s outcry influenced a suspension on the ruling, which allowed for a revote.

“Being a cowboy is about much more than just riding around on a horse. Initially I don’t think the lawmakers were able to look past that,” Valentiner said. “It’s a culture, it’s a lifestyle, it’s a code of conduct.”

Montana has joined other states that formally recognize National Day of the Cowboy, including California, Texas and New Mexico. Wyoming was the first to recognize the day in 2005 and the state would later pass a law in 2012 recognizing the fourth Saturday in July as the official day.

According to the National Day of the Cowboy organization, the day is one set aside “to celebrate the contributions of the cowboy and cowgirl to America’s culture and heritage.”

Reporter Kianna Gardner can be reached at 758-4439 or kgardner@dailyinterlake.com