Published August 22, 2016
HELENA, MONTANA—The Billings Gazette published an article last Friday that reports the Republican party’s candidate for Montana governor, Greg Gianforte says “the way for Montana’s American Indian reservations to escape poverty is through the free market, but the shortcomings of tribal governments are preventing businesses from flourishing.”
According to the Billings Gazette, Gianforte made his remarks on July 21 when responding to a question from someone in the audience. There is an audio recording of the GOP candidate’s remarks.
Gianforte says some things required for a free market to prosper don’t exist on Montana’s reservations, such as the consistent rule of law, respect for property rights, the lack of nepotism, the ability of a worker to keep the fruits of his labor and a culture that celebrates success.
“These things exist in very limited forms on these reservations,” Gianforte said. “You take the Crow, for example. My advice to would-be entrepreneurs there is, you may not be able to start the business on the reservation, but maybe you can do it in Hardin, just off, so you have the protection of the Montana courts.”
Gianforte is running against incumbent Democratic Governor Steve Bullock. Bullock’s administration has worked vigorously with Montana tribes to increase economic development opportunities on state’s reservations.
Darrin Old Coyote, tribal chairman of the Crow Nation, said Gianforte is flat-wrong about business opportunities on Montana’s reservations.
“He has no idea what Indian tribes are doing,” Old Coyote said of Gianforte. “I would say he needs to do his homework on Indian Country.”
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