Fight the Right Research
The Montana Human Rights Network evolved out of communities being concerned about Far Right activists setting up shop around Montana during the late 1980s and early 1990s. What this activity looked like varied from place to place. In the Northwestern corner of the state, it was white supremacists literally moving to local towns from the Aryan Nations compound in Idaho. On the Flathead Reservation, it was groups opposing tribal initiatives across the board. In Billings, it was neo-Nazi skinheads terrorizing the local Jewish community. And these were not the onl locales facing these types of challenges.

Since its founding, one of the Network's primary objectives is to help Montanans understand the anti-democratic forces that show up in their communities. The Network commits significant resources to conducting opposition research and making this information available to local citizens, the media, law enforcement, and other interested parties. The Network believes that, in order for communities to respond to the Far Right, they need to understand what is going on in their communities.

Over the years, our research and analysis have made the Network a sought after expert on Far Right activity both in Montana and nationally.
Margins to the Mainstream
It would be bad enough if hardcore white supremacists and other Far Right activists only impacted the communities in which they live. However, over the last two decades, the Network has documented how extreme right-wing ideas increasingly find their way into the political mainstream. During the early 1990s, groups like the Militia of Montana and Montana Freemen used gun rights and anti-tax diatribes to recruit from the mainstream. By the end of the decade, politicians were echoing the militia's "New World Order" conspiracies on the floor of the U.S. House, and conservatives sounded alarmingly like Freemen in speeches advocating cuts in income taxes and abolishing the IRS. 

Currently, this same dynamic is happening in the debate surrounding immigration reform and management of our public lands. The margins definitely influence the political mainstream. Combating this dynamic has to start at the community level, and the Network continues to lead the efforts in Montana.
  • The Network routinely attends Far Right events. These photos were taken at an Aryan Nations rally.
  • The Network routinely attends Far Right events. These photos were taken at an Aryan Nations rally.
  • The Network routinely attends Far Right events. These photos were taken at an Aryan Nations rally.
  • The Network routinely attends Far Right events. These photos were taken at an Aryan Nations rally.
  • Communities use our research to understand what's happening in their areas and organize responses.
  • Communities use our research to understand what's happening in their areas and organize responses.
  • Communities use our research to understand what's happening in their areas and organize responses.
  • Communities use our research to understand what's happening in their areas and organize responses.
  • Communities use our research to understand what's happening in their areas and organize responses.
  • Communities use our research to understand what's happening in their areas and organize responses.
The Network’s accomplishments related to its research are many, but here is a sample of some of our successes:

  • Assisted Whitefish in successfully responding to a national white supremacist website, which had unleashed a troll storm targeting members of the community and threatened to hold a Nazi parade. One of the national stories about it can be found here.

  • Published a report about the dangers posed by the militia movement a full year before one of its adherents carried out the Oklahoma City bombing.

  • Published the first reports examining:
    • The anti-Indian movement in Montana and its efforts to eliminate tribal sovereignty.
    • The anti-Muslim movement in Montana and how it reflects and is mobilized by the national increase in Islamophobia.

  • Wrote one of the first manuals describing steps community members can take to counter Far Right activity. 

  • Tracked and reported on the crossover between the anti-government “patriot” and anti-environmental “wise use” movements for decades before the Bundy family led standoffs in Nevada and Oregon.

  • Reported consistently about how candidates for elected office in Montana are connected to anti-democratic groups and activities, including exposing one legislative candidate as the state leader of the American Nazi Party.

  • Sponsored speaking tours by other experts on the Far Right, including representatives from the Southern Poverty Law Center, Political Research Associates, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Center for New Community, People for the American Way, Life After Hate, Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, and many others.

The Network has published briefing papers, newsletters, and full-length reports about various Far Right topics for over 25 years. You can find many of them in the "Resources" section of the website.
  • The Network routinely speaks out against violent rhetoric directed at public officials.
  • Research played an important role in the community responding to a right-wing radio host in the Flathead Valley who targeted local conservationists.