Members of the Chippewa Indians’ Little Shell Tribe blamed Montana’s Secretary of State on Monday after apparently comparing them to other “races” and “species,” he said, “fading (d)” rather than assimilating into a dominant culture.
An email sent by Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton (R) to companies in the state over the weekend with the subject “We Were Here First” and published on the agency’s website, explained his view that Indian tribes must work on it, adapt to a wider audience US culture or risk extinction.
“Our constitutions in Montana and the United States are trying to reconcile cultural respect and assimilation as primary goals for Indian reservations,” Stapleton wrote shortly after comparing the situation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I assume that Charles Darwin would have a different answer to my question. Darwinism would probably emphasize the evolution and the argument for ‘strong survival’,” continued Stapleton, adding: “Species, languages, races adapt and assimilate yourself or they disappear. “
The comments were sharply criticized by members of the Little Shell Tribe, who were mentioned in Stapleton’s email.
“No, no, it’s not even fair,” said Gerald Gray, chairman of the tribe, the Independent Record. “It’s not even apples to oranges. It’s apples to onions.”
“It’s frustrating because it goes back to boarding schools with the thought,” Kill the Indians, save the man, “” added another member of the Little Shell Tribe, Chris La Tray. “They wanted to eliminate the natives, from whom we should assimilate as ‘normal Americans’. We are not obliged to do so. Many of us don’t want that. I consider myself a US citizen who is subordinate to a citizen of the Little Shell people. “
Stapleton closed his email saying that he would pray for Gray and the tribe, congratulate them on the federal recognition for their tribe, and finished off with a line from a cult classic.
“Perhaps the best wisdom on land conflict settlement that both Gerald and I would remember comes from an 80s movie called” Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, “” he wrote. “Be excellent among each other!”