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Jodi Rave: Racial tensions in border communities

"Hundreds of border towns surround the 300 reservations in the United States. These towns wouldn't survive without the millions of dollars pumped into the economy from nearby tribal governments and reservation residents.

But tensions often run high between Natives and non-Natives in these areas. A federal mediator from Denver recently arrived in Havre to quell tension between tribal citizens on the Rocky Boy's Reservation and Havre business owners.

Rodney �Fish� Gervais, who directs the Tribal Employment Rights Office for the Blackfeet Nation in Browning, has seen prejudice and racism erupt between whites and Natives who live and work near each other in border towns like Cut Bank.

Natives typically bear the brunt of being treated like second-class citizens. They get shabby service at restaurants. They get followed around stores. They get arrested more often. They get kicked out of school more often.

Gervais, also a bondsman, gathered records that show 37 Blackfeet Nation tribal police officers each averaged 44 tickets a year - compared to a single non-Native highway patrolman who issued some 800 tickets on the Blackfeet Reservation for the same time period.

The tribe successfully addressed the issue with the Montana Highway Patrol, an effort Gervais helped lead. But recognizing a wider problem, he decided to bring more attention to Native civil rights. So he organized the Border Town Racism Conference scheduled Wednesday through Friday in Missoula."

Get the Story:
Jodi Rave: Tensions run high along the border (The Missoulian 4/3)

Related Story:
Border towns to tackle racism (The Havre Daily News 3/31)

Relevant Links:
Jodi Rave Lee -

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