An increasing number of people are making comments on stories we post ion http://www.havredailynews.com.
Even though we are sometimes upset by the nasty tone of the comments, many commenters make interesting comments and help havredialynews.com become more of a community forum.
But some comments upset us, indeed they scare us. That is the increasing number of outright racist comments that people try to post on the website. The racist comments go both ways. Some are anti-white, but most are blatantly anti-Native American. They include names for Native Americans that are offensive to Native Americans and ought to be offensive to us all.
These comments are made by a small minority of the population, but, our website is hardly alone in getting these kinds of comments.
Indeed, Gov. Brian Schweitzer said recently that you can go into just about any bar or restaurant in Montana and hear someone making disparaging comments about Native Americans.
This will change, he said, as the state’s demographics change. Young people are far less likely to resort to these tactics, the governor said.
The Montana constitution requires schools to provide lessons on Native culture and history. Only recently has the mandate been followed.
As young people learn these lessons, he reasons, they will be less likely to resort to racist conduct, as he seems to make a point. While anti-Native behavior is still reported in high school, there certainly are hopeful reports that it is on the decline.
That’s encouraging. It is a sign that people are willing to follow the advice of Martin Luther King Jr. to judge people based on “the content of their character.”
But more important, it is a good sign for Hill County’s future.
Hill County is one of the more diverse counties in Montana. About one-quarter of the county is Native American. Some Natives live on Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation, but an increasing number live in Havre.
The Native population is increasing, the European-American residents are decreasing in numbers.
As the county moves forward into its 101st year, it has an opportunity to blend the many cultures that make up our population.
Already, Native Americans contribute to the county’s economy. You need only to look at any restaurant, retail stores or business of any kind to see Native Americans spending their money in Havre. How great it would be if two of the hardiest groups in the nation — the Native Americans who have endured so much in recent centuries and the descendents of those rugged homesteaders of a century ago — could set aside their differences and work for a stronger, more economically viable Hill County.
The first benefit would be that both sides would be enriched by better understanding the two rich cultures that flourish in the county.
And it will make the economy of the reservation and the county as a whole more viable.
Rocky Boy and Havre’s past, present and future are intertwined. Eliminating the bigotry of the past will pave the way for a prosperous and interesting future.
(John Kelleher is managing editor of the Havre Daily News and havredailynews.com. He can be reached at email@example.com, (406) 265-6795, ext. 17, and (406) 390-0798.)