Some Montana officials are attempting to repair some serious damage in the wake of derogatory comments about protecting the lands of Native Americans.
The Associated Press reports that members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have been trying to convince Ravalli County Commissioners in Southwest Montana of the importance of tribal land known as Medicine Tree. Commissioners had already indicated that they want to oppose an effort to place the land in the trust of the federal government. Ravalli officials argued that the county would lose property tax revenues if there was a fed takeover.
The AP reports that Ravalli County Planning Board Chairman Jan Wisniewski, speaking as a private citizen, told some that law enforcement officials had "complained about their jails being filled with drunk Indians."
Ravalli County Commissioners have since drafted a letter apologizing for the remarks, adding "they did not represent the opinion of the board of the majority of county residents."
“Ravalli County values the cultural heritage between the Salish people and the Bitterroot Valley and desires to further a positive relationship with CSKT,” the letter read. “The Board apologizes if public comments caused offense.”
The AP reports that commissioners wanted to hand-deliver the letter of apology to tribal representatives, along with a framed photograph of Medicine Tree.