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GOP candidate blames tribal culture for lack of economic 'success'

MontanaDemocrats on YouTube: Gianforte Comments on Native American Communities

Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate for governor of Montana, is facing criticism for comments he made about economic development in Indian Country.

"There are some basic things that are required for a free market to prosper and some of these things don't exist on our reservations," Gianforte said in on a recording disseminated by the Montana Democratic Party.

According to Gianforte, that list includes a "consistent rule of law," "respect of property rights," "lack of nepotism" and a "cultural norm that celebrates success." He brought up the Crow Tribe and said he would encourage people not to start a business on the reservation.

“He has no idea what Indian tribes are doing,” Crow Chairman Darrin Old Coyote told the Associated Press in response to the comments. “I would say he needs to do his homework on Indian Country.”

Republican candidate Greg Gianforte, third from left, can be seen playing stick games at the Arlee Celebration hosted by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of Montana. Photo from Twitter

Gianforte has reached out to Indian Country but the effort hasn't entirely paid off. His campaign touted a recent visit to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes but the tribe endorsed incumbent Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, afterwards.

Tribal leaders, like Mark Azure, the president of the Fort Belknap Indian Community, also have questioned Gianforte's record. In an opinion for Indianz.Com, Azure criticized the Republican for picking a running mate who opposes the return of bison to tribal lands.

“Gianforte clearly doesn’t understand Montana values and he would rather tear down Montana's Native communities than work with them to find solutions," Jason Pitt, a spokesperson for the Montana Democratic Party, said in a press release.

Gianforte's comments were made during a July 21 campaign stop in Huntley, a community not far from the Crow Reservation.

Read More on the Story:
Candidate says Indian reservations hinder free markets (AP 8/19)

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