Issue Brief Examines Code of the West Conference
A “New” Code of the West Conference:
Where Anti-Government Extremism and Anti-Indian Bigotry Roam Free
Featuring a lineup of speakers with histories of bashing the federal government, conservationists, and American Indian policy, right-wing extremists claim “A ‘New’ Code of the West” will reveal how a shadowy “Deep State” is impacting the West. Scheduled to be held in Whitefish, Montana, on October 13, 2018, the keynote speaker is Ammon Bundy, a member of the notorious anti-government family that has engaged in two high-profile armed standoffs with the federal government in Nevada and Oregon. The family refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the federal government, and members of the Bundy family now travel the country teaching their false version of American history, their unconstitutional sovereign citizen views as fact, and encouraging communities to follow the contentious Bundy example. This will be the third time in eight months a member of the Bundy clan will have spoken in northwestern Montana. Both the organizers of the event and many of the speakers are enthusiastic supporters of the Bundy family and their armed standoffs against the government.
The speakers for the Code of the West promote an array of extremist conspiracy theories that trace back to the militia movement of the 1990s. Many of these militia conspiracies were modified only slightly from the anti-Semitic versions that are used by the white supremacist movement. While espousing slightly different versions of the same conspiracy, the Code of the West speakers spread fear and hatred of the federal government, which they claim is working with shadowy cabals to implement a one-world government that will enslave Americans. To learn more about the speakers, see the Human Rights Network’s full issue brief here.
The list of speakers includes Montanans and others from around the region, and they are well acquainted with each other. They interview each other on their online radio and talk shows. Many have shared the speakers’ podium together before, including at the right-wing conspiracy fests known as the Red Pill Expo. They promote each other’s books and cite each other’s work, along with serving together on boards of directors. Instead of being a unique combination of speakers, they are all part of the band of conspirators that travels the country peddling fear, paranoia, and sometimes a call to arms.
“This West is OUR West” is the driving force behind the conference. Up until now, the group has mostly existed online, maintaining a website that espouses an ideology at the nexus of the anti-government, anti-Indian, and anti-environmental movements. The website has predominately been a vehicle for Elaine Willman, the most prominent anti-Indian activist in the Pacific Northwest. The anti-Indian movement seeks to eradicate the treaty rights guaranteed to American Indians and uses tactics that amplify discrimination and bigotry towards American Indian community members. Willman moved to Montana a few years ago specifically to fight against the treaty rights of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT). Willman is scheduled to speak at the Code of the West event.
This West is OUR West is offering discounted rates to the event for elected officials and candidates for office to help mainstream its radical beliefs. Should these leaders attend the event, they will be fed conspiracy theories that target community members who are American Indian, federal employees, conservationists, and many others who will be portrayed as enemies to America. Attendees will be encouraged to manufacture controversy and pick fights with both federal and tribal governments using inaccurate history and false legal theories. This event will provide nothing of value to the community. At best, it will create the kind of divisiveness that pits neighbor against neighbor. At worst, the Bundy family will continue establishing the next beachhead for its war with the federal government, but this time it could be in Montana.
Learn more about the speakers in the Network’s full issue brief here.