Members of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians sharply criticized Montana's secretary of state Monday after he sent an email to businesses comparing them to other "races" or "species" and saying they must assimilate or "fade away."
In his message, which was also posted on his agency's website, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, a Republican, compared the situation in Montana to the Israel-Palestinian conflict and said the Montana and U.S. constitutions "attempt to balance both cultural respect and assimilation as noble goals for Indian reservations," reports The Hill.
He went on to say evolutionist Charles Darwin would a different answer to his question about both sides living together and Darwinism would "likely emphasize evolution and 'the strong survive' argument. Species, languages, races all adapt and assimilate, or they fade away."
Tribe chairman Gerald Gray, who was referred to in Stapleton's email as a childhood friend, told the Independent Record in Helena that Stapleton's message is "not even fair. It's not even apples to oranges. It's apples to onions."
The tribe was recognized by the federal government under a $738 billion defense bill President Donald Trump signed Dec. 20, and Stapleton in his email congratulated members for that achievement. Gray said he wishes Stapleton would have asked him first before mentioning his name in the message.
Another Little Shell Tribe member, Chris La Tray, said Stapleton's comments are "frustrating because that goes all the way back to boarding schools, with the notion of 'kill the Indian, save the man.'"
"They wanted to eliminate the Native parts of who we were to make us assimilate as 'regular Americans,'" La Tray said. "We're under no obligation to do that. Many of us don't want to do that. I consider myself a U.S. citizen secondary to a citizen of the Little Shell people."
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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