In an effort to combat racism in his state and garner support for Indian Education For All—an act that requires students to learn both American and Native American history—Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer has taken some heat for comments made at a Ohio Democratic Convention last month.
In stressing the importance of teaching both sides of history he told the convention that, "All over Montana, you can walk into a bar, a café or even a school or a courthouse and just listen for a while as people talk to each other, and you will hear somebody, before very long, say something outrageously racist about the people who have lived in Montana for 10,000 years. So I decided I can't turn the heart of a 45-year-old redneck. But if we start early enough. If we start with a tender child—so we passed Indian Education for All."
An editorial at DailyInterLake.com doesn't feel that Montana is as racist as Schweitzer says and that the governor didn't do a good job in promoting the state as he should. "There is no denying there are racists in Montana, as there are in every other state," it says. "But Schweitzer misrepresented the state as a place that is swarming with rednecks that are spewing outrageously racist remarks everywhere. That’s just not the case."
In a statement to Fox News, Schweitzer's office clarified his comments, saying that ""There are cultural dynamics that exist in many parts of our state and there are stereotypes that are perpetuated about our first Montanans that are unfair and untrue. Governor Schweitzer believes that we all have a lot to gain from learning about each other's cultures, traditions and histories. History has shown this time-and-time again."
During that same speech, Schweitzer also touted how well his state is doing in overall education saying that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, "Montana is increasing the percent of your adult population with a college degree at the fastest rate in the country. We are number one because we invested in education."
Watch Gov. Schweitzer's speech here: