Shekoli.

        I  would  like  to  begin  my  remarks  by  telling  you  a  story  about  the   man  we  are  honoring  this  morning.       In  2005,  a  short  story  ran  in  the  Washington  Post  about  a  Native   American  high  school  student  in  Maryland  who  was  being  denied  his   high  school  diploma  because  he  wore  a  bolo  tie  to  graduation  as  a  way   to  honor  his  Cherokee  grandparents.  According  to  the  school,  a  bolo  tie   was  not  formal  wear  and  the  graduation  ceremony  was  an  improper   place  to  celebrate  his  heritage.       Governor  Schweitzer,  despite  being  from  Montana,  took  it  upon   himself  to  speak  up  for  this  young  man  and  shine  a  bright  light  of  shame   on  the  school  for  being  so  ethnically  intolerant.       He  called  the  Washington  Post  and  told  the  paper  to  write  a  follow   up  story.  He  was  quoted  in  the  story  saying,  "In Montana and anyplace in Indian Country, a bolo tie is dressed up," he said the school should be ashamed of themselves. He called the young called man to tell him not to be

discouraged, and sent him a Montana state bolo tie. All of us in this room know what it feels like to be told to hide our cultural heritage, so we can imagine what it must have felt like for that young man to hear the governor of Montana telling him to stand strong and not apologize to anyone for wanting to honor his Indian roots. This story is just one small example of what Governor Schweitzer has meant to Indian people across the country. In his eight years in office, no governor in the country has been more responsive to tribes than Governor Schweitzer. As Governor, he ensured that Indians were acknowledged, respected, and included in all state operations. It is also worth noting that he left office as the most popular governor in the history of his state. In reviewing his accomplishments, Indian Country Today Media Network called him, “the best governor for Indian Country, ever.” It is not an overstatement to say that Governor Schweitzer has fundamentally changed the attitudes of countless Americans toward Indian people. Governor Schweitzer has created a blueprint for every governor and

political leader to learn from and emulate. He has demonstrated through his leadership that building a relationship with Indian Country based on respect and partnership, rather than conflict and demonization, is the best way governors can not only address the many challenges their states are facing, but also send a message that inclusion is a value respected by their state. Many Indian people believe that we must make our decisions based on what is in the best interest of the seventh generation. Governor Schweitzer, whether you choose to run for a higher office at some point or not, you have changed the way the people think about and treat Native people and your incredible legacy will be felt by the seventh generation and beyond. Thank you for all that you have done and all that you continue to do for this country and for Indian people everywhere. Ladies and gentlemen, Governor Brian Schweitzer.

 

       

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