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Jodi Rave: Applause for Gov. Schweitzer at NCAI

"The Montana governor [Brian Schweitzer] shared a similar message in Tulsa on Tuesday when he addressed a crowd of more than 1,000 during the annual conference of the National Congress of American Indians, the country's oldest and largest American Indian advocacy group.

Schweitzer talked about his efforts to include American Indians since taking office. Tribal flags fly next to the Montana and U.S. flags at the state Capitol.

The audience interrupted with applause.

And he acknowledged the eight elected American Indians in the Montana Legislature, the largest per-capita legislative representation in the country.

More applause.

He spoke of past governors' frail efforts to include tribal leaders in state matters. It wasn't enough, he said, to get tribal leaders from Montana's seven reservations - Crow, Rocky Boy's, Fort Peck, Blackfeet, Fort Belknap, Flathead and Northern Cheyenne - in the same room for 20 minutes at the Capitol.

Their needs are vastly different, he said. Tribal leaders deserve individual meetings in the governor's office. And if the state was to adhere to a true government-to-government relationship with tribes, he said, it's only right he travel the state to meet with tribal leaders in their offices, too.

More applause.

When Schweitzer campaigned across the state, he told tribes he would appoint tribal members to high-level jobs in his administration. He's followed through. There are now more American Indians working in Helena than ever.

More applause.

The governor also told congressional members about Montana's support for teaching American Indian culture and history in public schools. He said the state was leading the nation in American Indian education.

More applause."

Get the Story:
Jodi Rave: Schweitzer not boring, follows through on Indian promises (The Billings Gazette 11/6)

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