Bigots in Big Sky

  -Montana is and always will be WHITE MAN'S COUNTRY," reads a recruitment pamphlet distributed by white supremacist groups in rural areas of the state. More than 20 such hate groups, targeting African Americans, Jews, homosexuals and Native Americans, blight the landscape in Big Sky country, according to a 57-page report by the Montana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Their report, White Supremacist Activity in Montana, says groups such as the Aryan Nation have found fertile ground in western Montana's isolated communities (HCN, 6/27/94). The groups focus on economically distressed agricultural areas, where people are eager for a scapegoat. They encourage farmers and ranchers to blame a Jewish banking conspiracy or Native American treaties instead of changing economies. The advisory committee recommends setting up a computerized system to more accurately document hate crimes, increasing communication among different branches of law enforcement agencies, and adding "sexual orientation" to the categories of persons covered by the Montana Malicious Intimidation and Harassment Act. The Montana Advisory Committee was established to counsel the Commission on Civil Rights, a bipartisan fact-finding federal agency. To receive a copy of the July report, contact the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Rocky Mountain Regional Office, 1700 Broadway, Suite 710, Denver, CO 80290 (303/866-1040).