Hill County jail entangled in Ravalli dispute

Planning chair says jail is full of ‘drunken Indians’


November 25, 2013

The number of Native Americans in the Hill County Detention Center became a topic at a meeting between Ravalli County officials and Confederated Salish and Kootena tribal leaders.

The comments of the Ravalli County Planning Commission has created a stir around the state.

Ravalli County commissioners oppose the tribes' plan to put 58 acres of tribally owned land into trust with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, saying the county would lose $808 in annual property taxes.

The meeting ended on a sour note when county planning board chairman Jan Wisniewski of Darby said he'd recently gone on a fact-finding trip around the state, during which he visited with law enforcement officials in Havre who, he said, complained about their jails being filled with "drunken Indians."

Tribal council member Steve Lozar said he was "deeply, deeply offended" by Wisniewski's remark.

Tribal members traveled to Hamilton with a "good heart" to discuss issues important to both sides, he said.

"We are citizens of the United States," he said. "We serve in the military at a higher rate than others. This is our homeland. I'm offended by those comments."

Wisniewski could not be reached for comment this morning. A county commission staffer said she would relay a message to the commission chair that the Havre Daily News wants to speak to Wisniewski, but he had not returned the call by deadline today.


Reader Comments

SpudDenny writes:

We have drunk Indians and we have drunk white men and women....We also have plenty of sober hard working Indians who spend money and support the business in Havre. So now let me here from you Havre businesses, City, and County officials who agree that who ever made that statement be fired, or perhaps we Indians should stay out of Havre completely and spend our money elsewhere....Speak up Officials or do you support the comments made by this law enforcement department?

OchoRios writes:

I suspect that the Ravalli County Planning Commission chair, who made the comments, has a drinking problem, if not personally then with a family member. It's one of the most conservative counties in the state, and when you mix more than a modicum of bias (whether one calls that prejudice, racism, or hate) in public statements about another group of people in which you are not included, all manner of allegations will arise. Some of them, I imagine, have more than a kernel of truth to them.

mommyq writes:

here's some sterotyping. I heard that all European immigrants(founding forefathers) were criminals and diviants that left Europe to avoid jail or were run out of Europe. come on now be real, why would a person go to an unknown place with lord knows what dangers to leave civilization unless they were running from something.

skin writes:

It's kinda interesting how the Hill County Sheriff's Department has not commented.

Facts writes:

What are the facts? How many people are being held in the Hill County Jail? How many of those were arrested for drinking related crimes? How many in custody are Indian? White? Other races? Give us the facts

Havrerite writes:

This is just another example of the double standard with the race issue. If an indian had said that about a drunken white guy nobody would bat an eye. Maybe people need to be honest with themselves about where the racial tension actually comes from.

Tim writes:

Wherever the comment originated, the fact is the Ravalli County commissioner stirred it up, and repeated the slur at a public meeting. Ravalli County is a mess, and it's commissioners are digging the hole deeper. Zoning has been a joke for years, and the commissioners recently approved a subdivision on the banks of the Bitterroot that will house over a thousand people. Last month the commissioners voted down federal funding for women's health, simply because of anti-federal fervor.

RealTalk writes:

Any chance the jail really is full of drunken indians? Maybe someone should do some fact checking before getting all choked up about racial statements that happen to be completely true.

probablyindian writes:

The newspaper editor should be screening those types of remarks when it comes to discriminatory remarks and racial slurs in the news. It is freedom of speech but he/she should not be holding a public servant job if that is the way to express themselves. She/he obviously dysfunctional in his/her own life to make such remarks. Stop arresting those drunkin Indians then if you that is how you feel.

Bob writes:

Well, Joe, the article states that it was Havre law enforcement officials who made the racial slur that they are tired of the jail being filled with drunken Indians. I am tired of Havre and Hill County law enforcement being made up of ignorant bigots on a power trip.

joe writes:

Why is it you never pass up a chance to cause racial tension. Hill Co people did nothing to make this story about some racists in Ravalli county. You are part of the problem


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2017