In the People's Interest

Land-grabbing mentality inseparable from bison bills


Regarding the article in the April 22 Chronicle about Gianforte ordering the FWP to dismiss the bison management plan, Gianforte acts on behalf of the United Property Owners of Montana only. What is missing is acknowledging the 1877 Dawes Act, also known as the General Allotment Act. Here, Congress allowed for the break-up of reservation land, which was held in common by the members of a tribe, into small allotments to be parceled out to individuals. The folks who have created United Property Owners of Montana are descendants from the European immigrants who
were offered the land to colonize. Their families continue on. They identify as third, fourth and fifth generation Montanans. While this is historically true, through the Dawes Act the land was stolen from the ancestors of the tribes who are living and caring for the land right now.
The objection to the American Prairie Reserve is a repeat of the colonizing mentality of taking land away from the Indigenous Peoples in what is now Montana. As quoted by Carlson in the article, “Efforts to deter these projects border on racism.” I would say these efforts are a continuation of the racist policies that the US was founded on. I hear the families of the United Property Owners of Montana. The voices I hear louder are those of the indigenous people. Their voices have been intentionally silenced, generationally, through extreme measures of genocide. Their voices need to be
acknowledged. The land grabbing mentality of the past cannot be separated from what is happening in House bills 318 and 302.
Alice Robison

Bozeman Daily Chronicle Letter to the Editor 5/11/21

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