Ravalli Co. commissioners still trying to deliver apology to CSKT


HAMILTON, Mont. - Ravalli County commissioners are still trying to hand deliver an apology letter and gift to Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal leaders over remarks made last fall by a former planning board member about "drunken Indians."

A meeting to present the apology personally still hasn't happened.

Commissioner J.R. Iman said he has made five calls to the tribe to set up a time.

At a meeting Thursday, the board agreed to try one more time. They said if they can't set a date, they will notify the tribe they would like to visit on a Tuesday or Thursday, when tribal government accepts walk-in visits.

"We'll try one more time to set it up at their convenience," said Commissioner Jeff Burrows. "And if that doesn't work, (we will) just notify them that we will be there on that Tuesday or Thursday."

The tribe wants to place almost 60 acres of sacred land called the Medicine Tree, into a trust under the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

They met at the commissioners' request when the remarks were made.

Commissioners have opposed the land transfer proposal.

J.R. Iman said he wants more information about what the transfer would mean for access and public services like fire and schools.

The land generates about $800 a year in tax revenue for Ravalli County.

In a letter, a tribal official wrote the best apology would be "not to interfere with a transfer that would honor religious and cultural significance to the Medicine tree."

NBC Montana called a tribal official but had not heard back by news time.