Montana Politics

Dennis Rehberg’s Disrespect for Montana Indians

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One of the more infamous moments in Denny Rehberg’s entirely undistinguished career as Lt. Governor was his insensitive and incorrect observation that it was wasteful to spend money on AIDS/HIV, because “The problem with AIDS is you get it, you die, so why are we spending [money on] any people that get it?” It seems that Mr. Rehberg didn’t limit his offensive remarks to people with AIDS/HIV, as this letter, sent in by a reader, demonstrates. Published in 1994 in the Havre Bear Paw Bulletin, it shows Representative Rehberg in an incredibly troubling light, as he said that “Indians only work long enough hours to collect a check and then they’re gone,” among other remarks about American Indians.

Those attitudes are not only unbecoming of a U.S Senate hopeful; they’re unbecoming of a human being. Representative Rehberg’s inaccurate, disparaging remarks about Indian people in Montana are a sure indicator that he won’t work on their behalf in the U.S. Senate and that he doesn’t represent the values Montanans  support.

Shame on you, Mr. Rehberg.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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    • Come to work with ME some day, cupcake, and we’ll see how long you last! What a jerk. If you don’t puke and sneak out before noon, I’ll believe what you say. Open offer. Let me know when you’re ready, fat welfare farmer dude!

    • Culbertson guy… liked your comment… tell me something…you live next to a reservation…would you hire a indian ?…no.. try firefighting… but someone like you would probaly die from the work…

      • I know how to solve it… we were forced on indian reservations… if you dont like them…. leave this country

    • Well, who said he was right for Montana in the first place?…Only himself?…and the people that were paid?…how sad…!!

  • Why,is anybody surprised,that anyone in Montana,would make such a statement?..as former owners of this continent,we should not even have to work even half a day,had we been dealt with honestly and fairly,for our resources,and land base. Instead,we’re a afforded,a pittance,that the recent Cobell decision affords us. Instead of the vast share of wealth,that the white people have enjoyed,up to now. God,will not let the treatment of we,Natives,historically,stand. There,is an comeuppance,far worse,than the orchestrators of the Holocaust. Disparaging remarks,racially superior atitudes,overt discrimination, only covers the now time, soon,someone,will have to answer,for our deaths,by massacre,and slow deaths by disease and starvation. White people,have already.lost control,over their country,as they know it,or would like to see it stay. The country,is being ovverun,by millions of South Americans(ethnic indians). Let Denny Rehbergh,and his ilk,have their opinions,it’s just whistling in the dark,people like him,feel a sense of accomplishment and success,by feeling superior to someone else.

    • If it weren’t for us Indians, where would he be? Who would he be? What would he be? He nor his followers are no better than we, at least we have tradition, honor, open mindedness and willingness to move along and not vote for the wrong person…what do they have?

  • Danny brought a load of donations from Billings Food Bank when we were having the Ash Fire. My husband is the President of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. He was introduced to him and Danny totally ignored him. Never said good to meet you or is there anything I can do. He just brushed him off with”I have to go we are going to look at the fire”. I am a breed and I was totally shocked by his snub. Tester and Bacus came and sat down with him and had a good talk. They were very helpful. Any Indian who votes for a republican are only voting for rich people to get richer and poor get poorer. The Indian will lose a lot if they get in.

  • Rehberg’s comments are despicable. Good blog post. A word of advice though — the members and descendants of the tribes are not “Montana’s Indians”…just a thought. Thanks for posting this info!

    • Sarah’s right.

      Native American/Montana Indians is a misnomer. Bering Straight crossers would be a more descriptive definition. From Wiki.

      “The discovery of Kennewick Man, along with other ancient skeletons, has furthered scientific debate over the exact origin and history of early Native American people.[4] One hypothesis holds that a single wave of migration occurred, consisting of hunters and gatherers following large herds of game, which wandered across the Bering land bridge around 12,000 years ago. Other hypotheses contend that there were numerous waves of migration to the Americas. The apparent diversity of ancient skeletal remains, which may include traits not typically associated with modern Native Americans, has been used as evidence to support these rival hypotheses. A 2008 study on the genetics of modern Native American populations suggests that the 86 samples taken are descendants of a single migration that spread out along a coastal route prior to the Clovis era.”

      Whatever theory you believe in the word “Native” is suspect.

  • And ya think you can come up with a more current article?

    18 years ago? Really Don?

    Did he play cowboys and indians in grade school?

  • Wow really?? You really expect someone to erive 200 miles to get a good paying job? 200 miles from Belknap wouldn’t get you anywhere near places with good paying jobs. What about the car to get to that job? People who are poor run into obstacles such as transportation issues, such as a good running vehicle and money for gas to make it 200 miles. Unemployment is high, the infrastructure is not in place to create good paying jobs on most reservations. The jobs that are available are minimum wage part-time jobs which does no more than put groceries on the table and a few gallons in the tank, which may belong to another relative. So dont make it sound like all Indians try to milk the system or do nothing to change. We are educated and are working towards our futures. We only wish the ones running for politic office would be there to support us instead of tear us down and take whatever land and rights away from us.

  • As far back as I can remember.First Nations have always worked put in more then eight hours.I guess this is something you do not see.Some work from sun up to sun down still go home and look after their family.I would not let people know that you were my co-worker if I was working along side of you.As far as I can see you were brought up with no manners.

  • Poor Dingy Ingy. As most idiots do, you speak in generalities. You bet your ass there are Native Americans that are NOT very good employees, and yes there are some that might be called lazy. But, let’s not forget the GREAT employees, the ones searching every day for a job, the extremely intelligent, the ones that show up for work early every day, the ones that go the extra mile for their employers and/or customers, the ones that don’t ask anyone for anything. These folks far outnumber the bad. Do a little research on how your statistic are calculated. They, by design, are set up to make Indian Reservations look bad. I’m not going to do your homework for you, but one example is that School kids are included in the stats. Moronic? Yes! But what is even more moronic are the people that recite them.

  • The comments I’m seeing is pointless and if you have lived on a reservation you would know there aren’t enough jobs to go around and Denny making these comments suck from a man who is supposed to care about the people he serves, Rehberg and the swede are both assholes and don’ t know what they are saying! There is no need to run people down and ones who do are jerks guess I’m doing the same but only doing so because I’m in the right and they are wrong

    • Thats right! You are right and they are totally wrong…how boring…if I spent most of my time analyzing and researching the european caucasian!! I guess doing research on a race of people makes them racist…i don’t know and don’t want to know. They are pitiful people! Rehberg, johansson and all of them that came from that same mold…remember to have pity on them, because we can!

  • there, are white people that are just as, bad any, as far as employment is, concerned. where, i’m from ,the city missions are packed, with, your kind, futhermore, i have noticed alot of, mental people, hanging around, the streets and, that is effing, scary. so, before, you run a native american down take a good look at, your own. ignorant, people, it just tells, me how you people, were raised, the attitudes are learned and, it starts in, the home….

  • PPL. CAN BE HATEFUL,…I LIVE AND DO MY BEST TO MAKE A LIVING THE BEST I CAN,…BUT THERE ARE PPL. OF EVERY RACE THAT DON’T WORK, I AM A (BY WHAT THE GOVERNMENT CALLS ME) BLACKFEET INDIAN, I QUITE SCHOOL AT THE AGE OF 16TEEN TO RAISE A FAMILY,…I COULD NOT MAKE IT NO WHERE HARDLY BECAUSE THE WHITE MAN WOUND’NT GIVE ME A FAIR SHAKE HARDLY .(AND NOT ALL WHITE PPL. ARE LIKE THAT!) THE WHITE MAN WANTS TO LIVE ON THE LAND BUT DON’T WANT TO BE FAIR,….AND NOT ALL WHITE PPL. ARE LIKE THAT,…THE BAD SEED IS IN ALL RACE’SI OVER LOOK THE WRONGS DONE TO ME AND CARRY ON THE BEST I CAN,…WORK HARD, BE HONEST,….AND HELP MY FELLOW MAN (NO MATTER WHAT COLOR HE OR SHE IS!) AND LOOK TO THE GOD OF PEACE FOR HIS HELP,…AND HE CONTINUES TO SUPPORT ME TO THIS DAY, MY LIFE IS SIMPLE, LOVE JEHOVAH GOD AND HELP THOSE IN NEED,…WHEN I CAN,………NOW TELL ME INDIANS DON’T WORK FOR A LIVING.

  • …………….”OH” ,……AND A FEW OTHER THINGS TO YOU DENNIS REHBERG AND CULBERTSON GUY (s)……THE BIBLE TALKS ABOUT HOW ONE SHOULD WORK HARD AND SEE GOOD FROM IT, IT TALKS ABOUT HOW TO BE HONEST, HOW TO TREAT YOUR FELLOW MAN, HOW TO BE GOOD TO YOUR ANIMALS, TO THE LAND,………..BECAUSE THIS IS PLEASING TO THE LORD……………….SO QUIT CRYING AROUND ABOUT ALL THIA BULL !@#$%^&*&^%$# AND GET OFF YOUR @SS’ES AND DO SOMETHING TO MAKE THIS A BETTER COUNTRY,……..A BETTER WORLD……PEOPLE THAT WAT TO TREAT OTHERS LIKE THEIR NOTHING ARE THE ONE THAT ARE HATEFUL,IGNORANT………AND ABOVE AL,……OBTUSE! (bet you did’nt think a little ‘ol indian like me knew big city words like that……HUH???)……..I WILL NOT LOOSE SLEEP OVER THIS,…..BUT I BET YOU THOSE THAT ARE GREEDY,HATEFUL, AND MISTRUSTING WILL,…..BUT GOD TOLD ME TO LOVE THEM TOO, I DO,…AND TO PRAY FOR THEM, I WILL.

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