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The Case for Categorizing Anti-Indian Groups as Hate Groups

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Exploiting Historical Bigotry and Trying to Terminate American Indian Sovereignty

In 2000, the Montana Human Rights Network issued its groundbreaking report Drumming Up Resentment: The Anti-Indian Movement in Montana. The report provided the first in-depth analysis of the movement, groups, and activists seeking to eradicate American Indian sovereignty and treaty rights in the state. The Human Rights Network provided the following definition of the anti-Indian movement in Drumming Up Resentment:


“…a systematic effort to deny legally-established rights to a group of people who are identified on the basis of their shared culture, history, religion, and tradition. This makes it racist by definition.”[1]


The anti-Indian movement seeks to terminate American Indian sovereignty.

This may have seemed a provocative statement at the time, and it was no surprise that anti-Indian activists were outraged to have their ideological purpose described as racist. The Network knew Drumming Up Resentment provided solid evidence for the definition. Even a lawsuit by an anti-Indian activist didn’t result in the Network having to change the definition or any of Drumming Up Resentment’s content. Because of the definition, the Network is often asked if national watchdog organizations and the media should categorize anti-Indian groups as

hate groups. The Network believes that should be the case.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is considered the leading national authority when it comes to mapping and determining hate groups across the country. On its website, SPLC defines a hate group as:


“an organization that – based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities – has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”[2]


Immutable characteristics are traits extremely difficult to change, such as race or ethnicity. The SPLC’s annual “Hate Map” of groups in the United States is an important resource. Many people, including community activists and the media, use it to try and understand the origins of these oppressive forces, along with how to communicate about and organize against them.

There’s much congruence between SPLC’s definition of a hate group and the Network’s definition of the anti-Indian movement. The Network believes that anti-Indian groups meet SPLC’s definition, as they oppose American Indian sovereignty, government, and efforts across the board. They seek to limit, if not outright terminate, American Indian culture through what they euphemistically call “assimilation,” by which they mean forcing American Indians to adopt white, European culture. Anti-Indian groups ignore that the U.S. Constitution treats tribes as sovereign nations with legally-established rights. Instead, as demonstrated during a 2013 anti-Indian event in Washington State, activists talk openly about American Indian sovereignty being “a major legal fiction” and the need to “take these tribes down.”[3]   


In addition to its rhetoric and political activism, the anti-Indian movement builds upon the country’s historical oppression of American Indian people and capitalizes on the misinformation and everyday bigotry directed at American Indians.


Anti-Indian Movement Fits the “Hate Frame”


While the overlapping definitions by the Network and SPLC are beneficial, it’s worth taking a little deeper dive. Hate is a strong word; however, it can be diluted through everyday use. A child might say she hates broccoli, a sports fan may claim to hate the opposing team, a family member may say he hates getting out of bed in the morning, etc. When it’s not watered down by these types of casual usage, the concept of “hate” is part of a useful tool for social justice movements through a construct known as the “hate frame.”


Frames provide a way to think about and categorize complex issues. Professor George Lakoff, a nationally-recognized expert on framing, describes how we frequently use them to understand the world around us:


“Everybody engages in it [framing] all the time. Frames are just structures of thought that we use every day. All words in all languages are defined in terms of frame-circuits in the brain. But, ultimately, framing is about ideas, about how we see the world, which determines how we act.” [4]


Starting in the 1980s, constituency-based social justice groups started to view the violence, discrimination, and oppression used to try and deny legal rights to minority groups as being rooted in hatred. This particular lens is based on a common understanding that “hate is rooted purely in irrational, personal prejudice and fear and loathing of difference.”[5] In practice, hate separates “us” from “them,” and the oppressive “us” castigates “them” as a dangerous threat and/or scapegoat. The hate frame has become extremely effective in gaining public support and awareness of individuals and groups that target minorities because of their immutable characteristics.[6] There is even an interdisciplinary area of academic research related to the frame.[7]


Using the hate frame, it’s easy to condemn “hate groups,” because they’re run by extremists who frequently use overtly racist and derogatory language. White supremacist groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan and gangs of neo-Nazi skinheads, slide into the hate frame easily and are widely acknowledged as hate groups. Although it is too often viewed as just another conservative political movement, the anti-Indian movement also fits into the hate frame through its absolute opposition to American Indian cultural expression and treaty-based sovereignty.


Anti-Indian groups frequently hide behind names like Citizens Equal Rights Alliance (CERA) and All Citizens Equal (ACE), in an attempt to present their anti-Indian activity in civil rights rhetoric. They claim they represent the dominant white population, which is supposedly being oppressed by the minority. At a basic level, this is similar to messaging used by white supremacist groups. The links between anti-Indian activists and white supremacist groups is also an indicator of the race-based roots of the anti-Indian movement. As an example, Drumming Up Resentment outlines how ACE activists participated in organized white supremacist activity on the Flathead Reservation during the 1980s and 1990s.[8]

A more recent example involves Skip Palmer, son of the well-known and now deceased anti-Indian activist Del Palmer. Skip Palmer has been a vocal opponent to transferring management of the National Bison Range to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT). On his Facebook page, he posted a meme asking, “When is White History Month?” that featured the white supremacist mantra “100% White” and “100% Proud.”[9] Former CERA board chair Elaine Willman posted the same image on her Facebook page earlier this year.[10] Various white supremacist record companies sell merchandise featuring the same “100% White/Proud” logo featured in these Facebook posts.[11]


Perpetuating a History of Bigotry


Anti-Indian activists seek to destroy American Indian sovereignty and call for assimilation of American Indians into the culture of their colonizers. The movement’s notion of assimilation clearly involves race, as it assumes that white, European culture is more valuable than others. A meme posted online by Elaine Willman reinforces this idea succinctly: “You are WHITE. Your ancestors did not steal this country…they BUILT this country.”[12] Assimilation in the anti-Indian movement’s context requires extinction of American Indian culture and government, which really means American Indians as they currently exist. Like the white supremacist movement, anti-Indian groups build on bigotry from America’s past. As American Indian journalist Tim Giago wrote:


“If the Indians could be portrayed as savages without religion, subhuman, brutal killers of men, women and children, and as untamable, the easier it would be to assuage the collective consciences of the people. Manifest Destiny could then be enforced and the obstacles in its path, the Indians, removed by whatever means necessary, genocide included.”[13]


Moving non-Indians to reservations was intended to slowly rid the country of American Indian Nations.[14] The Dawes Act of 1887 was President Chester Arthur’s attempt to deal with what he called “the Indian problem.”[15] After the federal government confined Indian  Nations to reservations, the Dawes Act facilitated turning much of that land over to non-Indians.[16] The Manifest Destiny mindset of the time was that it was God’s will for Americans of European heritage to expand West and do what they wanted with what they procured. This same mindset still runs deep in anti-Indian circles and other right-wing movements. When it came to Manifest Destiny, taking over the land wasn’t enough. Removing its indigenous occupants was implicit.


Treaties with Indian Nations were a legal compromise between assimilation and extinction of American Indians. In reality, they were little more than paper oppression:


“When considering the definition of cultural genocide – when a government officially sanctions the removal and/or repression of a particular group that subsequently eliminates and/or weakens part of that group – the actions of the federal government can be considered genocidal in both intent and consequence. However, the genocidal policies failed to destroy them [American Indians] as a people, nor did they destroy their cultural and spiritual heritage.”[17]


Treaties were ostensibly a better alternative than complete extinction, but anti-Indian activists continue to take umbrage with even these articles of compromise. Part of the resentment and anger likely stems from the recognition that treaties did provide some real resources and rights for American Indian self-governance, which created the legal and political framework for American Indian Nations to continue defending their land base, resources, and culture.


Frequently, anti-Indian activists couch their desire to eliminate American Indian sovereignty and culture in calls for “assimilation.” Del Palmer, the previously noted anti-Indian activist from the Flathead Valley, provided an example when he called for assimilation through termination of reservations. He argued that, if one is less than half Indian, the person is not American Indian. “There are only some 86 full bloods on the reservation…the [Flathead] reservation has outlived its intended life span and should now be terminated,” he stated.[18] In addition to telling American Indian Nations how they should determine membership, Palmer said:


“Where would the Indian be today on the reservation had the white man not chosen to come in the beginning and live as white brothers for these many years, under peaceful coexistence? Where would the Indian be if the white man were to disappear? Who would pay the taxes and maintain the entire workings of the reservation?”[19]


Palmer promoted the anti-Indian movement’s “us” versus “them” mentality, a key manifestation of the hate frame in practice. He depicted American Indians as a separate entity that would not be able to function without the assistance of the white man; that they would not have survived had we not stepped in. The point is clear – white people are superior to American Indians.


At a 2015 conference in Kalispell, MT, sponsored by CERA, the largest anti-Indian group in the country, activists Elaine Willman and Debbie Bacigalupi demonstrated how well the anti-Indian movement fits into the hate frame. Bacigalupi echoed Palmer when she said:


“Here’s what I want to ask the tribes. If it weren’t our Founding Fathers who conquered this land…If it were not our Founding Fathers who believed in freedom and liberty for all people, which tyrannical king, which tyrannical kingdom would have been here first to create all slaves forever? I’d like to ask the tribes that. If it wasn’t the Founding Fathers who eventually gave you freedom and liberty, who was it going to be that you would be the slave to? Which master would be here that you and I would not be free citizens? That’s what I want to ask them.”[20]


Bacigalupi, much like Holocaust deniers, rewrites history to fit her agenda. In reality, the country’s European Founding Fathers did not want to give the Indians freedom. A report by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights states:


“In a famous 1783 letter George Washington outlined a course of gradual encroachment on Indian lands (versus advocates of aggressive incursions which Washington thought would lead to armed conflicts with tribes) that would cause the ‘Savage as the Wolf to retire.’ President Thomas Jefferson advocated wholesale violence against tribes should they resist the U.S. and Jefferson’s Arkansas territory policy foreshadowed the Indian removal policy adopted by Congress under Andrew Jackson in 1830. Bacigalupi’s ‘history’ erases these realities…to further dispossess tribes of treaty-reserved rights and resources.”[21]


The Founding Fathers did not prioritize equality and freedom for American Indians. Instead, they argued for the complete removal and extinction of the American Indian population, while using dehumanizing phrases like “Savage as the Wolf” to describe American Indians. Bacigalupi and other anti-Indian activists frequently and blatantly distort history to perpetuate a “benevolent white race” narrative, which is also used frequently by white supremacists and white nationalists.


Elaine Willman provided another example of distorting the historical record at a 2013 CERA event in Washington State. She claimed political leaders in Washington were imposing the “real Trail of Tears” by placing the sovereignty of 29 American Indian Nations ahead of the sovereignty of the state. The Trail of Tears refers to the forced removal of the Cherokee Nation from its homelands in Georgia and North Carolina to Oklahoma in 1838 and 1839. Approximately 4,000 American Indians died as they were forcibly marched during winter conditions. Clearly nothing like this is happening in Washington State, and it is nothing more than an attempt by Willman to downplay an atrocity committed against American Indians, which is another favorite tactic of the anti-Indian movement.[22]


Sometimes anti-Indian activists go so far as to tell American Indians that they should be thankful that they still even exist. As Willman told a Montana group in 2017:


“So when I hear, ‘We were here first.’ I say, ‘You’re very lucky we were here second, because we could be studying you like the dinosaurs.’ Most conquerors conquered everything. There was nothing left, but our Pilgrims and first founders, they escaped for religious freedom and values, and they worked very, very hard to get along with the Natives.”[23]


The anti-Indian movement promotes a narrative of white culture being superior to American Indian culture. American Indians are viewed through a “conquered nation” lens that tells them they should just be happy that Europeans didn’t succeed in totally wiping them out. 


Working with Both Mainstream and Extreme Movements


The anti-Indian movement intersects and works with other conservative movements, both in the political mainstream and out on the margins. It seeks to use more mainstream allies to provide political cover and legitimacy, while its ideology finds its home on the right-wing fringe.


CERA’s website says it “believes and defends the constitutional rights of Indians and non-Indians. Our mission is to change federal Indian policies that threaten or restrict the individual rights of all citizens living on or near Indian reservations.” While it mentions defending constitutional rights, CERA conveniently overlooks the constitutions that many American Indian Nations passed as part of the Indian Reorganization Act of the 1930s. Even when it comes to core values like constitutional rights, CERA picks and chooses which documents it recognizes as legitimate, and American Indian Nations don’t make the cut.


It’s also important to recognize that CERA and anti-Indian activists don’t limit themselves to Indian policy. At the Kalispell conference mentioned above, Willman and Bacigalupi spoke, not only of federal Indian policies, but also railed about one-world government conspiracy theories regarding the United Nations. Willman feared that the “proposed CSKT Water Compact is the Revolutionary War for citizens of Montana” and that it is:


“…a template for federalizing all state waters and implementing communalism and socialism consistent with Agenda 21, and that it is intentionally aligned to spread tribalism as a governing system while eliminating State authority and duty to protect its citizenry.”[24]


Elaine Willman (right) shows up in right-wing circles frequently. Here she spreads her anti-Indian message on an online program of the John Birch Society.

The Agenda 21 conspiracy theory, which has roots in anti-Semitic conspiracies, is a core belief of both the anti-government and anti-environmental movements. These conspiracies bleed from one movement into another, helping create new alliances. In essence, Willman and Bacigalupi drew in a crowd concerned about federal Indian policies and then connected it to other core right-wing beliefs to find allies and cohesion with other groups.


The anti-Indian movement utilizes tactics and shared ideologies of other movements to gain ground and work their way into, and benefit from the cover provided by, mainstream politics. Its activists understand that the anti-environmental “wise use” movement has appeal and popular support in mainstream conservative circles, so they try to tap into that perceived credibility.


The “wise use” movement doesn’t necessarily have a position when it comes to the structure of American Indian Nations’ governments or how nations define their membership. However, when anti-Indian groups’ goals intersect with “wise use,” these two movements partner up and push forward together. For example, the two joined forces to oppose the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Water Compact, with both using “property rights” rhetoric, which is often where the ideology and messaging for the two movements intersect. During the 1990s and early 2000s, CERA held its annual lobbying days in Washington D.C. with a national “wise use” group, Alliance for America, saying they both “share a common interest – the protection of private property rights.”[25]


Not only does the anti-Indian movement hold hands with the “wise use” movement at times, it also mimics the Far Right’s reliance on fear. Fear is an incredible motivator and can be manipulated as a weapon to increase and secure membership in a movement. Ken Stern, an expert on the Radical Right and anti-Semitism, writes:


“…the Klan’s most significant impact may have been its intimidating role in day-to-day life. Whether in the 1860’s or the 1960’s, it counted on a shared perception of the white populace, and by scapegoating groups that seemed to threaten ‘the way things were,’ the Klan became an alternative social structure that gave many people a feeling of power.”[26]


The Ku Klux Klan is the poster child of hate groups. Its hate is obvious, proud, and self-proclaimed. Willman imitates the Klan’s pernicious scapegoating, and her conspiracy theories inspire intimidation and fear. As an example, tapping into society’s current fear of Muslims, Willman promotes a conspiracy involving Middle Eastern countries which have supposedly found a loophole in federal law that allows them to store money and lease lands on reservations with no oversight by the federal government.[27] This links two favorite targets of right-wing vitriol—American Indians and Muslims—into one conspiratorial narrative. Conspiracy theories offer simple solutions to complex issues, and groups like CERA frame American Indians as supposedly dangerous threats to the rights of non-tribal community members. Meanwhile, CERA is really trying to undermine legally-established rights granted by American Indian sovereignty. Fear homes in on the instinctual need to protect and, as a result, has a tricky way of drawing an audience and stirring paranoia. The anti-Indian movement uses that to gain momentum and recruit new supporters.


While seeking mainstream credibility, the anti-Indian movement finds a comfortable home in Far-Right circles. Fear is the scaffolding of the anti-government “patriot” movement and lays the foundation for conspiracy theories, which helps with cross-pollinating the anti-Indian movement. These two movements share both anti-government sentiments and conspiracy theories, such as those surrounding Agenda 21 mentioned by Willman. Anti-Indian activists tend to come from the right-wing end of the political spectrum which means they are skeptical of the federal government on most issues, similar to anti-government “patriots.” The exception comes when American Indians assert their rights, at which point anti-Indian activists clamor for the federal government to have jurisdiction. This helps underscore the racism behind their agenda. For example, there is an ongoing dispute over whether CSKT should manage the National Bison Range. In the eyes of right-wing movements, the federal government is terrible. However, for the anti-Indian movement, American Indians are always worse. Therefore, it and many of its right-wing allies are singing the praises of the federal government and want the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to run the Bison Range.


Additionally, anti-Indian groups don’t just oppose Indians in one issue area. Anti-Indian activist Roland Morris, who is now deceased but served as both chair of ACE and vice-chair of CERA, admitted that ACE, the leading anti-Indian group in Montana throughout the 1990s, strictly opposed American Indian Nations on all fronts:


“I said we should try to help with some of these laws and rules and regulations that the tribe is fighting, try to help them if we could, but the organization [ACE] didn’t listen, didn’t want to listen to me so I quit….They wanted to oppose the tribes on those [hunting, fishing, land jurisdiction issues] issues.”[28]


Racism and hatred do not compromise. Regardless of the issue, the anti-Indian movement is against American Indian tribes, yet the movement attempts to push back against the labels of “racist” and “hate group.” Morris helps prove opposition to the label is shallow and rhetorical. He sued the Network over Drumming Up Resentment. During his deposition, the Network’s attorneys asked Morris if he agreed with the report’s definition of racism by substituting in various types of people, including members of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe and CSKT. Morris responded by saying that systematic efforts to deny legally-established rights was racist in every situation, including when applied to American Indian Nations.[29] Morris helped cement the case that the anti-Indian movement fits in the hate frame and deserves the “hate group” designation.


Exploiting Systemic Racism, Discrimination, and Stereotyping


The anti-Indian movement reflects the systemic racism that perpetuates the oppression of American Indians, while it seeks to capitalize on the negative stereotypes directed at American Indians. The examples of systemic racism can be found in almost any institution. For instance, it helps explain how:

  • American Indian men are incarcerated at four times the rate of white men, while American Indian women are incarcerated at six times the rate of white women.[30]

  • American Indians face unemployment in Montana at rates that are two to three times that of the state’s average.[31]

  • American Indian students’ graduation rates tend to be the lowest for any ethnic group in Montana.[32]

American Indians repeatedly experience discrimination in scenarios like being followed in stores, because they are assumed to be suspicious simply because of their race. This doesn’t mean that the sales clerk necessarily hates American Indians, but it does speak to the daily bigotry perpetuated against people of color in our society. To the person being stereotyped, the result often has the same impact:


“The 5-year-old American Indian boy with long, black hair learned everything he needed to know in Kindergarten. The kids at school used to call him a girl. So he cut his hair straight across, just below the ears. But the taunting continued. His music teacher kept telling him: ‘Indians go ‘i-ya-ya-ya.’’ The young boy was perplexed…The boy, who loves math and wants to be a veterinarian, is now 14 and hasn’t attended school since first grade.”[33]


As the scenarios and statistics above reinforce, the data reflecting institutional racism are not just numbers. They reflect a real impact on the life experience of people of color, in this case American Indians.


Individuals that make derogatory comments may not hate American Indians, but they are guilty of further perpetuating and normalizing racism. This normalizing process helps the anti-Indian movement, which seeks to capitalize and mobilize community members by tapping into and exploiting these stereotypes that many people have absorbed.


American Indians are often dismissed but, when they are acknowledged, they are often romanticized. Indians are too often thought of as a people of the past, a people that were. It’s not uncommon to find anti-Indian activists who even say they are “part Indian.” Roland Morris was Leech Lake Chippewa. Elaine Willman claims that she is part Cherokee and that her husband is Shoshone and a descendant of Sacajawea.[34] However, when she discusses her ancestry, it is in the past tense. She’s commented how she “deeply treasures” her Cherokee heritage and “fully revere[s] and respect[s] American Indian history;” however, she then asserts the superiority of her American citizenship.[35] The message is clear – American Indian ancestry and culture need to be left in the past.


The anti-Indian movement likes to prominently feature its America Indian activists as a rhetorical foil against charges of racism. It is not unique to the anti-Indian movement. Hard-core white supremacists have reveled in forging alliances with black separatist groups, and neo-Confederate groups have long trotted out African Americans willing to publicly support a return to the Confederacy. All these examples assume that a person cannot be prejudiced against a group of people, because the person is a member of that group. It is a simplistic analysis that can mask the overall purposes of a movement.


There is also a definitive modern appropriation of American Indian culture. American Indians are talked about in a reminiscent, nostalgic light as if their culture was only beautiful pre-treaty and pre-Colonial. Anti-Indian activists like to dismiss any treaty rights that existed before the U.S. Constitution, arguing that they are invalid. In 2017, Willman told the Montana Agri-Women: 


“One of the games being played is using terms that are a couple hundred years old, that are dead. It’s dead language being revitalized. For example, you hear an awful lot these days about aboriginal rights, an awful lot these days about time immemorial, an awful lot about pre-constitutional and pre-European. These are terms that are just invalid. They are absolutely invalid, but they’re being propagandized across the country.”[36]


Invalidating the past leaves little room for discussion of the current people. Rebecca Adamson, former president of the First Nations Development Institute, writes:


“Indian hatred nowadays is faceless, oblique, bureaucratic. It comes at us from strange angles, the edges rounded with reasonability. It takes the same form as a museum display housed only a few short years ago in the Smithsonian Institution’s permanent natural history displays: among stuffed birds an Indian chief’s eagle-feathered headdress perched like a bird on the featureless mannequin of a human head.”[37]


Adamson demonstrates how the Smithsonian’s display highlights the familiar romanticizing of American Indian culture, overlooking the actual Indian beneath the headdress. Too often, the beautifully-decorated American Indians are in the past and, therefore, they cannot also exist in the present. The anti-Indian movement’s messaging frequently taps into and promotes this dynamic.  




The hate frame can be used to understand the goals of the anti-Indian movement: termination of American Indian sovereignty and culture in order to reinforce a sense of superiority. The movement is founded on hatred of the other, with even anti-Indian activists like Roland Morris testifying to its racist core. The movement harnesses the legacy of Manifest Destiny to push American Indians out of focus and into oblivion, as its logical conclusion is the termination of American Indian sovereignty.


The hate frame has offered a lens to categorize and think about similar movements based on intense, irrational prejudice. Systemic racism and expressions of everyday bigotry, combined with institutionalized racism, benefit the larger anti-Indian movement. The ignorance regarding treaty rights and the bigoted stereotypes carried around by many people in their daily lives help create a susceptibility to the messages of the anti-Indian movement.  


When constructing its map of hate groups in the United States, the Southern Poverty Law Center has used this definition: “All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”[38] The anti-Indian movement clearly meets this definition and fits within the hate frame. The Montana Human Rights Network believes that anti-Indian groups rightly deserve “hate group” designations by national organizations, the media, and the American public.


In Their Own Words


Statements by Anti-Indian Organizations


“We want legislation to stop Tribal Government jurisdiction – all forms.” – CERA News, August 1989


“As a nation, we must get over this Indian sovereignty myth.” – CERA News, April 1998


“Since the early 1970s, powerful movements have used concepts like ‘tribal sovereignty’ and ‘Indian self-determination’ to push a radical strategy. Their agenda is to fragment our nation along racial lines and establish hundreds of growing apartheid Indian ‘nations’ within our country.” – CERA News, February 2000


“When you compare the characteristics of an addictive organization to the characteristics of tribal government, they are the same: confusion, dishonesty, control, and abnormal thinking processes.” – CERA News, February 2001


“In other words, all the basic human rights we take for granted, that allow us to live in dignity with our neighbors, are not guaranteed on Indian reservations under the present version of ‘sovereignty’ [emphasis in original].” – CERA, Starter Kit on Sovereignty, 2005

“In an effort to maintain traditions and customs many Indian people have found it necessary to attempt to establish sovereign nations within a nation. The culprit is not the non-Indian and it is not the sincere Indian; the culprit is a series of misguided federal policies, outdated in design, and totally unworkable…The conflict between Indian and non-Indians, sometimes called racism, is in fact more properly identified as federal government bungling.” – ACE Letter, Undated


Statements by Anti-Indian Activists


“That [treaty-based sovereignty] flies in the face of everything that this country is all about.” – Rick Jore, former Montana state legislator and opponent of American Indian Nations, Jan. 4, 1998[39]


“This is a term [time immemorial] used to promote American guilt because tribes claim that ‘We were here first.’ That is true, but the answer today is, ‘So what?’ Indians are full American citizens along with the rest of us. My response to ‘we were here first’ is to remind tribes of how fortunate they are that we were here second. Most other conquerors during the Doctrine of Discovery period completely decimated those they conquered. We could be studying Indians like the dinosaurs….” – Elaine Willman, former CERA chair, Jan. 27, 2017[40]


“The UN is using U.S. tribes as pawns to facilitate the dismantling of our country, and of course, tribes are ever so willing, but continually demanding federal dollars. Tribes bite the hands that feed them, and if one protests, why, they are racist.” – Elaine Willman, former CERA chair, Jan. 27, 2017[41]


“We have 270 sanctuary cities fully infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood. We now have 340 Indian reservation targets, soft quiet spaces, to further infiltrate this country with Muslims. The scary part is that for those folks that live on those reservations, the tribal families, I can only imagine the strongest tribal leader sitting across from some Muslim leader, and I can only imagine that Sharia Law will soon be the law of the land and not their tribal law on these Indian reservations as this progresses.” – Elaine Willman, former CERA chair, in a video by a member of the Montana Chapter of Oath Keepers, October 16, 2017[42]


“Tribal governments love to just shout to the rooftops, ‘You stole our land.’ ‘We were here first.’ The answer to that is no one stole your land. Those treaties were sales contracts, and you were amply paid multiple times over…Land was paid for to the Indians many times over. No one stole your land.” – Elaine Willman, former CERA chair, in a video by a member of the Montana Chapter of Oath Keepers, October 16, 2017[43]


“This Indian industry are your lobbyists, legal counsels, your radical tribal leaders who have now joined forces with environmental extremists, with the United Nations, and Agenda 2030 folks. They all have one thing in common. They’re all adversarial to the United States.” – Elaine Willman, former CERA chair, in a video by a member of the Montana Chapter of Oath Keepers, October 16, 2017[44]


The Montana Human Rights Network would like to thank Katie Hopper, a Human Rights major at Bard College, for contributing to this issue brief.


[1] Montana Human Rights Network, Drumming Up Resentment: The Anti-Indian Movement in Montana, 2000, p. 6.

[2] Southern Poverty Law Center, “Frequently Asked Questions About Hate Groups,” Oct. 4, 2017.

[3] Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, “’Take These Tribes Down:’ The Anti-Indian Movement Comes to Washington State,” April 26, 2013.

[4] George Lakoff, “How to Frame Yourself: A Framing Memo for Occupy Wall Street,” Dec. 11, 2011.

[5] Political Research Associates, “Beyond the Hate Frame: An Interview with Kay Whitlock and Michael Bronski,” July 27, 2015. The article provides an analysis of both the benefits and challenges of using the hate frame.

[6] Political Research Associates, Reconsidering Hate: Policy and Politics at the Intersection, 2012; Political Research Associates, “Beyond the Hate Frame: An Interview with Kay Whitlock and Michael Bronski,” July 27, 2015. Both documents provide an analysis of the benefits and challenges of using the hate frame.

[7] See the Institute for Hate Studies at Gonzaga University:

[8] Montana Human Rights Network, Drumming Up Resentment: The Anti-Indian Movement in Montana, 2000, p. 26-29.

[9] Montana Public Radio, “Fight Brewing Over Proposed Transfer of Bison Range,” June 13, 2016.

[10] Elaine Willman, Facebook, March 2, 2018.

[11] Examples include Tightrope Productions and NSM88 Records.

[12] Elaine Willman, Facebook, June 26, 2018.

[13] Missoulian, “American Past is Genocide,” July 5, 1998.

[14] Rudolph C. Ryser, “Anti-Indian Movement on the Tribal Frontier,” Center for World Indigenous Studies, June 1992.

[15] President Chester Arthur, “First Annual Message,” Dec. 6, 1881.

[16] Nebraska State Historical Society, “The Dawes Act,” April 14, 2008.

[17] Dr. Gayle Olson-Raymer, “Whose Manifest Destiny? The Federal Government and the American Indians,” Department of History, Humboldt State University.

[18] Montana Human Rights Network, Drumming Up Resentment: The Anti-Indian Movement in Montana, 2000, p. 10.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, “Anti-Indian Escalation in Montana,” Nov. 3, 2015.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, “’Take These Tribes Down:’ The Anti-Indian Movement Comes to Washington State,” April 26, 2013.

[23] Montana Agri-Women, “Mid-Year Meeting,” April 22, 2017.

[24] Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, “Anti-Indian Escalation in Montana,” Nov. 3, 2015.

[25] CERA News, “President’s Corner,” September 1996; CERA News, “CERA in Washington D.C. with Alliance for America,” November 1997; CERA News, Advertisement, March 1999; CERA News, Advertisement, May 2000.

[26] Kenneth Stern, A Force Upon the Plain: The American Militia Movement and the Politics of Hate, 1997.

[27] News with Views, “The Spreading Epidemic of Tribalism in America,” Jan, 11, 2016; Daily Interlake, “Alliance Cites Fear of Federal Tribal Policy,” Sept. 27, 2015.

[28] Roland Morris, Deposition in Roland J. Morris, Sr. and Elizabeth S. Morris vs. Ken Toole, Montana Human Rights Network,” July 10, 2001.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Jake Flanagin, “Native Americans are the Unseen Victims of a Broken US Justice System,” Quartz, April 27, 2015.

[31] Associated Press, “Montana Lawmakers Tackle Pervasive Poverty on Tribal Lands,” April 6, 2017.

[32] Missoulian, “Montana Surpasses Record High U.S. Graduation Rate,” Oct. 17, 2016.

[33] Billings Gazette, “Indians Victim of Media Stereotypes,” June 21, 1998.

[34] Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, “Anti-Indian to the Core: Elaine Willman, the Citizens Equal Rights Alliance and the Citizens Alliance for Property Rights,” May 19, 2017; Montana Agri-Women, “Mid-Year Meeting,” April 22, 2017; Elias Alias, “Elaine Willman on Tribal Governments Part 4,” Oct. 16, 2017.

[35] CERA Website, “CERA President Elaine Willman Speaks on Federal Indian Policy,” undated; American Lands Council, “When did the Political Winds Shift?” Oct. 21, 2014.

[36] Montana Agri-Women, “Mid-Year Meeting,” April 22, 2017.

[37] First Nations Development Institute, “Healing from Hatred,” March/April 1995.

[38] Southern Poverty Law Center, Hate Map.

[39] Missoulian, “Human Rights Network Targets the Right,” Jan. 4, 1998.

[40] Elaine Willman, “Indian ‘Nations’ — and Other Sham Terms: Let’s Speak Clearly and Truthfully,” Jan. 27, 2017.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Elias Alias, “Elaine Willman on Tribal Governments Part 6,” Oct. 16, 2017.

[43] Elias Alias, “Elaine Willman on Tribal Governments Part 4,” Oct. 16, 2017.

[44] Ibid.