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Group looks to roundup support for National Day of the Cowboy

July 28, 2018 GMT

The cowboy and cowgirl code of conduct extols simple ethical guidelines for the ranching men and women of America.

Live each day with honesty and courage.

Take pride in your work.

Do what has to be done - and finish what you start.

It’s this third principle that’s been keeping Whitefish resident Ted Valentiner busy.

From beneath the brim of a well-worn cowboy hat, he explains his personal mission of promoting the National Day of the Cowboy in the state of Montana. The National Day of the Cowboy, celebrated on the fourth Saturday in July, is formally recognized by 12 states, and was first enacted to honor the contribution and historical significance of the American cowboy. As early as the 1500s, domestic horses and cattle made their home on American soil. Today, the U.S. is home to nearly 750,000 active ranches, which not only help feed our country but have had a lasting cultural influence in film, art and more.

That legacy lives on in the Big Sky State in the form of rodeos, skijoring and cowboy music and poetry - not to mention ranchers who are actively living the cowboy way, day in and day out.

″[The cowboy] is such an American icon - I think just out of respect for that heritage we should recognize it,” Valentiner said. “It’s not a gender issue, it’s not an ethnic issue, it’s not a geographic issue. Maryland, for goodness sakes, has already approved the National Day of the Cowboy.”

The first to recognize it was Wyoming, which approved a resolution brought fourth by late senator Craig Thomas in 2005. In 2012, the state passed a law formally designating the fourth Saturday in July as National Day of the Cowboy in perpetuity.

Other states to follow suit include California, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, among others.

A nonprofit organization by the same name was also founded in 2005 to help promote the cowboy day along with cowboy culture. They also promote Western literature and cowboy poetry through a youth reading initiative titled “Read ’Em Cowboy.”

Valentiner said the largest hurdle in moving the issue forward in Montana is getting legislative support. Text for resolutions declaring the day in Montana and on the national level have already been authored by the nonprofit. Valentiner said he is currently in talks with at least one state representative along with prominent figures in state cowboy culture.

“I’ve made it my mission to see how far we can go to get it done,” he said. “The reception that I’ve had so far is pretty good, but pretty good doesn’t get it voted on.”

Valentiner is nothing if not persistent and hopes that Montana can follow in the footsteps of other states. Virginia, for example, had an especially quick turn around time.

“Someone mentioned it to a Virginian legislator and it was done in three hours,” Valentiner said. “Let’s make it a bipartisan issue that’s non-political. This is an important American icon. [Cowboys] have, and continue to, contribute immensely to our society and country today. Let’s recognize them.”

But even more than monetary donations to further the group’s mission, Valentiner said they’re in need of public participation.

“Mostly, I want people to talk to their local representatives and say, ‘Let’s get behind this,’” he said. “I just can’t believe we’ve gotten to this point and we haven’t addressed it yet.”

For more information, visit www.nationaldayofthecowboy.com.

Reporter Mackenzie Reiss may be reached at 758-4433 or mreiss@dailyinterlake.com.