Jodi Rave: Lawmaker a symbol of Old West ignorance

"An Old West Montana lawmaker recently shot himself in the foot - again - after making antiquated remarks about the history of Native peoples. But this isn't the first time state Rep. Ed Butcher has drawn blood.

Lately, my inbox has been filled with e-mails from people who are livid about the latest comments from Butcher, a Republican from Winifred who has served in Montana's Legislature - first the Senate and now the House - for nearly eight years.

Unfortunately, he's getting media attention for all the wrong reasons. Instead of being noteworthy for legislating meaningful laws, Butcher is noted, once again, for making disparaging remarks. He's an all-around abuser, having dumped on fellow lawmakers, disabled youths, and - repeatedly - the indigenous people of Montana.

In 2001, he called Indian reservations “ghettos.”

Butcher's apologies have come out of necessity rather than sincerity. Early in this year's legislative session, he referred to a gavel as a tomahawk and made reference to “Chief Windy Boy,” instead of Rep. Jonathon Windy Boy, a Chippewa Cree from the Rocky Boy's Reservation. Butcher insists he didn't say anything wrong. Behind the scenes, he told those who complained to “get a life.”

Butcher called the situation with Windy Boy “ironic,” given the fact that he adopted a baby girl from the Chippewa Cree Tribe. That's not ironic. That's disturbing. Anyone aware of his Native track record would understand why. People like Butcher have spurred child advocates to create the Indian Child Welfare Act as a way to keep Native children connected to their tribal communities. No one seems more disconnected with indigenous people than Butcher."

He's kicking up dust today among Indian education advocates for sabotaging attempts to teach contemporary and historical Native issues to public school students. The effort is mandated by the Montana Constitution, but for 30 years, lawmakers failed to support it. It wasn't until the state was sued that legislators finally designated the first dollar bill for Indian education in 2005."

Get the Story:
Jodi Rave: Old West ignorance alive in Butcher (The Missoulian 3/25)

Relevant Links:
Jodi Rave - http://www.missoulian.com/jodirave

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