with racism assessment
Havre Daily News
A federal mediator is back in Havre this week to meet with community leaders and residents, discuss her assessment of racism in Havre, and begin the process of mediation, a U.S. Department of Justice official said today.
Community Relations Service mediator Grace Sage visited the area twice this summer after a University of Montana journalism project about racism in Montana described mistreatment of Native Americans in Havre.
Community Relations Service deputy director Stephen Thom said today that Sage is entering into a preliminary mediation session with local leaders and residents.
Sage has repeatedly declined to be interviewed.
“The parties have agreed to sit down and begin talking through their issues,” Thom said.
Havre Mayor Bob Rice said today that he briefly met with Sage on Tuesday and will attend a meeting today at 1:30 p.m. in the US Bank meeting room. He said he didn't know what would be discussed at the meeting.
Thom said all mediation sessions are closed to the public.
“They're confidential,” he said. “It's to try to give the parties the confidence to ... be as candid as possible.”
Thom also said that, while Sage will not prepare a written report of her findings, she will speak with the various parties involved about her findings. He said it will be up to the parties to decide how that information is made public.
“They would decide how they would best want to make (the information) public or how they would be implementing these agreed-upon issues,” Thom said.
He said the need for any future mediation sessions would be determined by the community leaders and residents involved in the process.
Many community leaders contacted today by the Havre Daily News were unaware that Sage had returned and did not know of today's meeting. Hill County Commissioner Mike Anderson said the commission had not been invited, and five members of the Havre City Council said they had not been contacted by Sage.
Members of the Rocky Boy tribal council could not be reached for comment.
The article written by UM journalism student Anne E. Pettinger, called “Bordering on Racism,” appeared in the school's 2005 Native News Project, “Perceptions.” It was included in editions of the Great Falls Tribune.
The store described incidents in several businesses in Havre, including American Indians being mocked by whites at a local bar and watched more closely at some local stores.
Sage's visits prompted an story about Havre by the Denver Post, which was reprinted in the Havre Daily News.