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A “New” Code of the West Conference

Where Anti-Government Extremism


and
Anti-Indian Bigotry Roam Free

Montana Human Rights Network / P.O. Box 1509 / Helena, MT 59624 / network@mhrn.org / www.mhrn.org
2 A “New “ Code of the West Conference

The Montana Human Rights Network is a grassroots, state-based human rights non-profit organization
in Montana working to promote democratic values such as pluralism, equality and justice; challenge bigot-
ry and intolerance; and organize communities to speak out in support of democratic principles and institu-
tions. The Network uses a multi-faceted approach to expand the base for human rights in Montana, including
pursuing progressive public policy, exposing the radical right, and supporting local community organizing.
The Network has researched and reported on the activities of the radical right for more than 25
years. To learn more about this work, please visit our website at https://mhrn.org/right-wing-research/.
You can find more of the Network’s reports and issue briefs here: https://mhrn.org/resources/.

Montana Human Rights Network


P.O. Box 1509
Helena, MT 59624
(406) 442-5506
network@mhrn.org
www.mhrn.org

Montana Human Rights Network © September 2018


A “New “ Code of the West Conference 3

F
eaturing a lineup of speakers with histories standoffs against the government.
of bashing the federal government, conserva- The speakers for the Code of the West promote
tionists, and American Indian policy, right-wing an array of extremist conspiracy theories that trace
extremists claim “A ‘New’ Code of the West” will back to the militia movement of the 1990s. Many of
reveal how a shadowy “Deep State” is impacting these militia conspiracies were modified only slight-
the West.1 ly from the anti-Semitic versions that are used by
Scheduled to be held in Whitefish, Montana, on the white supremacist movement.
October 13, 2018, the keynote speaker is Ammon While espousing slightly different versions of
Bundy, a member of the notorious anti-government the same conspiracy, the Code of the West speakers
family that has engaged in two high-profile armed spread fear and hatred of the federal government,
standoffs with the federal government in Nevada which they claim is working with shadowy cabals
and Oregon. The family refuses to recognize the le- to implement a one-world government that will en-
gitimacy of the federal government, and members slave Americans.
of the Bundy family now travel the country teaching The list of speakers includes Montanans and
their false version of American history, their uncon- others from around the region, and they are well
stitutional sovereign citizen views as fact, and en- acquainted with each other. They interview each
couraging communities to follow the contentious other on their online radio and talk shows. Many
Bundy example. have shared the speakers’ podium together before,
This will be the third time in eight months a including at the right-wing conspiracy fests known
member of the Bundy clan will have spoken in as the Red Pill Expo. They promote each other’s
northwestern Montana. Both the organizers of the books and cite each other’s work, along with serv-
event and many of the speakers are enthusiastic ing together on boards of directors. Instead of be-
supporters of the Bundy family and their armed ing 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, main-
taining a website that espouses an ideol-
ogy at the nexus of the anti-government,
anti-Indian, and anti-environmental move-
ments. 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 am-
plify discrimination and bigotry towards
American Indian community members.
Willman moved to Montana a few years
ago specifically to fight against the treaty
One of the Code of the West’s main organizers is Laura Lee rights of the Confederated Salish and Koo-
O’Neil, an avid supporter of the John Birch Society. On Facebook, tenai Tribes (CSKT). Willman is scheduled to
she posted this photo of local Birch Society supporters getting speak at the Code of the West event.
ready for a parade, and she’s posted videos by the group’s found-
Laura Lee O’Neil is the registered agent
er, Robert Welch.

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4 A “New “ Code of the West Conference

for the corporation This West is OUR


West and the primary organizer of the
Code of the West conference.2 O’Neil
launched the This West is OUR West
website in October 2016, and it was
greeted enthusiastically by militia ac-
tivists.3
She frequently travels with Elaine
Willman, records Willman’s presen-
tations, and posts them online.4 Like
Willman, O’Neil has fought against
the CSKT Flathead Water Compact,
at one point calling it “THE most im-
portant issue” for Republicans to con-
sider during the 2018 Primary Elec-
tion.5 She’s an avid supporter of the
extremist John Birch Society and has
supported the Bundy family, saying
“Cliven Bundy isn’t WRONG.”6
This West is OUR West is offer-
ing discounted rates to the event for
elected officials and candidates for
office to help mainstream its radical dian activist in the Pacific Northwest, if not the en-
beliefs. Should these leaders attend the event, they tire country. The anti-Indian movement seeks to
will be fed conspiracy theories that target commu- deny legally-established rights to American Indians
nity members who are American Indian, federal by terminating treaty rights and tribal sovereignty,
employees, conservationists, and many others who while also erasing Indian culture in favor of white
will be portrayed as enemies to America. European culture.
Attendees will be encouraged to manufacture Willman has served on the board of the larg-
controversy and pick fights with both federal and est anti-Indian group in the country, the Citizens
tribal governments using inaccurate history and Equal Rights Alliance, for years, including six years
false legal theories. This event will provide nothing as its board chair.7 Willman tells audiences that
of value to the community. At best, it will create treaty rights should be terminated, and she claims
the kind of divisiveness that pits neighbor against that treaties with American Indians are “absolute-
neighbor. At worst, the Bundy family will continue ly invalid,” unconstitutional, and “dead language.”8
establishing the next beachhead for its war with She moved to the Flathead in 2015 to fight against
the federal government, but this time it could be the CSKT Flathead Water Compact, which she said
in Montana. could spawn a second American Revolution.9
Earlier this year, Willman revealed the role that
race plays in the anti-Indian movement. On Face-
A “New” Code of the West:
book, she posted a meme asking, “When is White
Scheduled Speakers and Organizers History Month?” that featured the white suprema-
cist mantra “100% White” and “100% Proud.”10 Var-
ious white supremacist record companies sell mer-
Elaine Willman chandise featuring this same “100% White/Proud”
Citizens Equal Rights Alliance saying.11
She posted another meme stressing the impor-
Elaine Willman is the most prominent anti-In- tance of white European culture: “You are WHITE.

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A “New “ Code of the West Conference 5

Your ancestors did not steal this country…they BUILT ity to provide oversight of election results on res-
this country.”12 She frequently promotes this belief ervations, and Democrats pay American Indians to
that white settlers created the West, and American vote for their candidates.21
Indians should just be happy they weren’t totally
exterminated.13 Kerry White
A key to Willman’s anti-Indian activism is her Montana State Representative
claim to being “part Indian.” She routinely says that
she is part Cherokee, including telling a recent audi- Montana State Rep. Kerry White (R-Bozeman)
ence that a DNA test revealed she is 30% American has been one of the central actors for Montana’s
Indian.14 However, when she discusses her ancestry, anti-environmental “wise use” movement for de-
it is in the past tense. cades. The “wise use” or “multiple use” movement
She’s commented how she “deeply treasures” began in the 1980s with funding and guidance from
her Cherokee heritage; however, she then asserted extractive industry, which created astroturf com-
the superiority of her American citizenship.15 Her munity groups to promote industry’s agenda. While
message is clear – American Indian ancestry and cul- the movement’s agenda is focused on opposing
ture need to be left in the past. Anti-Indian groups conservation, it has long intersected with the an-
like to prominently feature their few American In- ti-Indian and militia movements, especially at the
dian activists as a rhetorical foil against charges of local levels.
racism. This assumes that a person cannot be preju- White helped found, and has been a longtime
diced against a group of people to which the person leader of, Citizens for Balanced Use (CBU), a well-
belongs. known Montana wise use and ATV group that has
Willman weaves her anti-Indian activism into opposed wilderness, forest planning, the Endan-
popular right-wing conspiracies. She claims the gered Species Act, and many other policies.22 White
CSKT Flathead Water Compacts is part of “imple- himself has been active locally in a variety of land
menting communalism and socialism consistent use and property rights issues. In 2011, he was
with Agenda 21.”16 The Agenda 21 conspiracy claims axed from the Gallatin County Planning Board due
that a United Nations document promoting sustain- to his antagonistic and polarizing presence.23
ability and planning crafted in 1992 is a sinister plot White routinely displays how his anti-conser-
to subvert property rights and enslave Americans. vation views are based on underlying conspiracies,
In a video posted by a leader of the militia-based which he sees manifested as environmental regu-
Montana Oath Keepers, Willman said American In- lations and policies. Particularly, White subscribes
dians work with “environmental extremists” and to a one-world government conspiracy that wealthy
the United Nations, because all of them are “adver- elites (in White’s version it’s environmentalists) are
sarial to the United States.”17 She’s also claimed the taking over the world through the United Nations
UN is using tribes to “facilitate the dismantling of and conservation groups. He has claimed,
our country.”18
She taps into the right wing’s fear of Muslims by “Agenda 21 is the most aggressive
promoting a conspiracy theory that Middle Eastern attack on our country and personal
countries are using reservations as staging areas for freedoms we as a nation have ever
future attacks.19 With these views, it’s no surprise experienced. Population control,
that Willman has been involved in Red Pill Expos, private property control, energy
speaking at the 2017 event in Bozeman, Montana, control, food control, etc. Learn
and attending the 2018 event in Spokane, Washing- what Agenda 21 is and you will be
ton.20 alarmed and angry.”24
During this election cycle, Willman has peddled
stories that voter fraud on reservations resulted in White has also promoted “coordination,” a rel-
electoral wins for US Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana). atively new name for the county supremacy beliefs
She’s claimed that the State of Montana has no abil- foundin both the wise use and anti-government

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6 A “New “ Code of the West Conference

movements. “Coordination” is a con-


voluted notion that counties can pass
natural resource plans and make fed-
eral agencies adopt them. He’s long
promoted the notion of county su-
premacy. He used CBU’s e-mail list
to promote a workshop by wise use
attorney Karen Budd-Falen back in
2010, and he attended the workshop
she gave in the Bitterroot Valley in
November 2017.25
Over the past year or so, White
has actively campaigned to re-
lease Wilderness Study Areas and
open them to motorized use.26 He’s
claimed that conservation organiza-
tions are funded by Chinese and Rus-
sian money to support wilderness
designations, in order to “increase
our dependence on unfriendly for-
eign nations.”27 He’s been a major
proponent of making the federal
Montana Rep. Theresa Manzella (R-Hamilton) posted this photo of Rep.
government transfer public lands to Kerry White attending a workshop by wise use attorney Karen Budd-
the states.28 Falen.
White supported the Bundy fam-
ily in their armed standoffs with the federal govern- claiming it was an effort to create a “Negro Soviet
ment. In April 2014, he announced plans to go to Republic” in the United States.33 The Birch Society
Nevada and stand with Bundys”29 During the Bundy was also a close ally of the segregationist Alabama
standoff in Oregon, White called on the local sher- Governor George Wallace.34
iff in Oregon to protect the militia supporters from As the Cold War subsided, the Birch Society
federal agents.30 He’s characterized the Bundys as took aim at the United Nations and became a pur-
“honest farmers and ranchers.”31 The Bundy fam- veyor of one-world government conspiracy theo-
ily isn’t his only foray into militia circles. In 2011, ries, in addition to promoting Christian fundamen-
he shared the speaker podium with militia favorite talism and the abolishment of numerous federal
Richard Mack at a rally in Bozeman, Montana.32 agencies.35
Newman is viewed by right-wing extremists as
Alex Newman an expert on the supposed “Deep State” after au-
John Birch Society’s The New American thoring a Birch Society report on the topic.36 The
idea of the Deep State isn’t new and has generally
Alex Newman currently serves as a foreign cor- referred to government entities like the armed forc-
respondent for The New American magazine, the es, intelligence agencies, administrative agencies,
flagship publication for the John Birch Society. and others working to undermine a country’s elect-
Founded in 1958, the John Birch Society fought ed leadership. The Trump Administration popular-
the perceived infiltration of communists in Amer- ized the notion by claiming a Deep State is trying to
ican society, even calling Dwight Eisenhower an stop his efforts, as his administration faces internal
“agent of the Communist conspiracy.” Promoting an leaks, critical media coverage, and opposition to his
extreme right-wing ideology, the group vigorously agenda.
opposed the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, For his part, Newman likes to take the Deep

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A “New “ Code of the West Conference 7

State conspiracy even further, making its anti-Se- for being a so-called expert when it comes to the
mitic roots clearer. He claims this Deeper State is conspiracy theories regarding Agenda 21. He claims
comprised of power brokers, like the Rothschilds, Agenda 21 was crafted by a group of 35-40 inter-
Rockefellers, Council on Foreign Relations, Trilater- national bankers called the Club of Rome in 1968,
al Commission, Bilderbergs, and Illuminati.37 These where they decided to use “environmentalism” as
are the same boogeymen used by white suprem- a tool to subjugate the world to one-world govern-
acists and anti-government militias in their one- ment.47
world government conspiracies. He is obsessed with the idea that Agenda 21
According to Newman, these entities “domi- will enslave America to “global governance” by the
nate every organ of government.”38 He also frames United Nations.48 He also shares the militia move-
the battle taking place in spiritual terms, claiming ment’s beliefs that the government is establishing
Deep State entities are “absolutely involved with prison camps, with Happel stating such “relocation
the dark side, with what Lucifer is up to” and that centers” currently could house 20 million people.49
they engage in demonic rituals.39 He’s been a frequent supporter of the Bundy
Newman is a hostile critic of the public educa- family, calling them a very “law-abiding” family and
tion system. He believes the cur-
rent education system should be
viewed as an “act of war” trying to
overthrow the US Constitution.40
He has claimed public schools are
at “the heart of this globalist ef-
fort” to “enslave the world.”41
For him, parents leaving their
children in public schools are
“failing in their duty to protect,
nurture, love and disciple their
child.”42 A major component of
his criticism is that public schools
are “systematically undermining
Biblical religion and Christianity,”
which he views as part of the one-
world government agenda.43 Dan Happel features militia figures like Richard Mack on his radio show.
Like many other Code of the
West speakers, Newman is connected to the Red “decent genuine” citizens.50 He’s encouraged listen-
Pill Expo, serving as an editor for the so-called Red ers to his radio show to do anything they can to help
Pill University and speaking at the events.44 While the Bundy family and their supporters, whether it’s
promoting the Code of the West, Willman said financial help or moral support. In true Happel fash-
Newman would tie tribal issues to emerging one- ion, he’s claimed the federal government’s actions
world government efforts.45 Also like many Code against the Bundy family are part of Agenda 21.51
of the West speakers, Newman has supported the Happel has promoted the Oath Keepers, an
Bundy family. 46
anti-government entity dedicated to recruiting
law officers and military personnel into the militia
Dan Happel movement. An Army veteran himself, Happel was a
Host of Connecting the Dots featured speaker at a 2010 conference convened by
the Montana Oath Keepers while he was a Madison
Dan Happel, who has lived in Montana most County Commissioner.52 During his 2010 campaign
of his life, is best-known in anti-government circles for the county commission, he distributed business

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8 A “New “ Code of the West Conference

cards for the Oath Keepers at table displays.53 Keepers became a liability during his campaign.62
Happel serves on the Leadership Council for
Freedom Force International. Freedom Force stages Matt Shea
the “Red Pill Expos.” Happel has framed the expos Washington State Representative
as being about stopping the “transformation of our
constitutional republic and individual rights into a The Code of the West bio for Washington State
Marxist/ technocratic/corporatist world govern- Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley) says he is “rec-
ment controlled by powerful and ruthless men in- ognized nationally as a Constitutional conservative
tent on ruling over mankind.”54 He chaired the 2018 and pro-liberty legislator.”63 That’s a sanitized way
Red Pill Expo held in Spokane, Washington.55 He of saying he regularly shows up in anti-government
told the media he was excited that the Expo would circles, and he’s used the Bundy standoffs to raise
feature a film glorifying one of the militia leaders his profile.
who helped lead the Bundy standoff in Oregon.56 Shea worked with the Oath Keepers to send a
Happel has been an avid proponent of various delegation of state legislators to the Bundy Ranch
anti-government beliefs, including
that gold and silver are the only le-
gitimate currency. He testified for
legislation that would have required
the State of Montana to back trans-
actions with gold and silver coin.57
Happel has also supported bills eu-
phemistically supporting “states’
rights,” which declared the federal
government was acting unconstitu-
tionally and included language about
secession and declaring the income
tax unconstitutional.58
While his ideology exists on the
fringe, Happel has used political
activism as a way to try and main-
stream his views. He has served as a
member of the Madison County Commission, and in Nevada.64 He compared the militia supporters
he has also been active with the Montana Repub- engaged in the armed standoff to the colonists
lican Party, currently serving as its Finance Chair.59 during the American Revolution with Britain, saying
He has fought to keep extreme right-wing val- the Nevada standoff was between “freedom-loving
ues in the Montana GOP’s platform. In a report Americans” and “Constitution-ignoring socialists.”65
on the 2010 platform convention, he commended He more actively participated in the Bundy
participants for putting together a “very conserva- standoff in Oregon, even funneling intelligence
tive Republican platform.” As proof, he referenced from the FBI to the militia members.66 In Oregon, he
planks to repeal the 16th Amendment; to remove also hooked up standoff members with a Three Per-
the US from the United Nations and kick the orga- cent Militia activist who helped anti-government
nization out of the country; and in support of the occupiers flee as law enforcement closed in.67 Shea
“Birther” conspiracy regarding President Obama’s later presented this Three Percenter with a “2016
citizenship.60 Patriot of the Year” award.68
In 2015, he ran unsuccessfully to be chair of the His support of the Bundy family was hardly his
Montana Republican Party, claiming Montanans first venture into militia circles. He’s claimed the
were “losing our unalienable rights” due to “Fed- federal government was behind the Oklahoma City
eral over reach[sic].” 61 His connection to the Oath bombing, which was perpetrated by militia adher-

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A “New “ Code of the West Conference 9

ent Timothy McVeigh.69 He believes FEMA is con- ter of ceremonies for the 2018 Red Pill Expo, along
structing concentration camps in which it will im- with presenting during a breakout session.74
prison Americans.70 He’s spoken at Oath Keepers
events and encouraged people to buy copies of Christopher Kortlander
militia agitator Richard Mack’s book to give to their Custer Battlefield Museum
sheriffs. 71
His connection to right-wing extremists was also Christopher Kortlander is an antiquities dealer
on display at a previous Montana event at which he probably best known for buying and owning the
spoke in the Flathead. Back in 2011, he spoke at the town of Garryowen, Montana, which is in Big Horn
Preparedness Expo sponsored by a militia group, County on the Crow Reservation. He also owns and
The Flathead Liberty Bell. The group’s name came operates the Custer Battlefield Museum, which is
from a militia strategy of forming phone trees that located on the land where the first shots of the Bat-
would rally militia members to intimidate law en- tle of the Little Big Horn were fired.75 His presence
forcement during situations like traffic stops. At the at the Code of the West probably stems from his
Preparedness Expo, Shea shared the podium with history of anti-Indian activism and his decades-long
struggles with the
BLM and other federal
agencies.
Kortlander pur-
chased Garryowen in
1993 and moved his
antiquities operation
to the community
from California.76 He
came under federal
investigation after the
BLM received com-
plaints that he was
selling artifacts that
were allegedly recov-
anti-government preacher Chuck Baldwin, Oath ered from the Little Big Horn Battlefield.77 The in-
Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, and militia agita- vestigation of Kortlander led to search warrants be-
tor Richard Mack.72 ing carried out by federal agents in 2005 and 2008.
Shea has embraced many extremist ideas, not In 2009, the federal government decided not to
just of the anti-government variety. In June 2016, prosecute him and returned most of the confiscat-
he helped form a Spokane chapter of the anti-Mus- ed artifacts, although some were kept to determine
lim ACT for America, which is designated a hate who legally owned them.78
group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and is Kortlander’s view of these developments reads
the largest purveyor of Islamophobia in the coun- like a soap opera script. He claims the whole feder-
try. ACT for America equates all Muslims with ter- al investigation stemmed from the jealous ex-hus-
rorists and claims Islam a political ideology, not a band of Kortlander’s girlfriend who happened to be
religion, that wants to destroy Western civilization. an unethical BLM agent. As he weaves his tale in his
Shea has promoted common anti-Muslim conspira- book Arrow to the Heart, he talks about shady in-
cy theories, including that the Muslim Brotherhood formants, agents engaged in entrapment, untrust-
has infiltrated the highest levels of the federal gov- worthy community members, and lots of litigation.
ernment.73 He also speculates that members of the Crow Tribe
Like many other Code of the West speakers, he were involved, saying it was “correct to believe that
has participated in Red Pill Expos, servings as mas- both bureaucratic and Indian politics were fueling

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10 A “New “ Code of the West Conference

the federal assault on Garryowen.”79 Claims about Indian voter fraud have recently
After this experience, Kortlander adopted lan- garnered Kortlander much attention in right-wing
guage toward federal agents that any militia mem- circles. One chapter of his book is dedicated to sup-
ber would endorse: posed voter fraud by the Crow Tribe that helped
• He called the agents carrying out the search elect Jon Tester to the US Senate in 2006. Among
warrants “black-clad federal agents in hiked-up his claims are:
jackboots” and “storm troopers run amok sent • Tribal members used different names to
by an all-powerful central government.”80 vote in more than one precinct.
• He said he and others have been a “victim • The Crow Tribe issued multiple tribal iden-
of similar Nazi Gestapo-like raids by overzeal- tification cards, one in a person’s Crow name
ous” federal agents.81 and one in the person’s English name, so tribal
• Federal agencies, he claimed, had adopted members could vote twice.
“a ‘Rambo’ type attitude and they’ve been run- • The Montana Democratic Party paid Ameri-
ning amok, threatening and raiding innocent can Indians $40 per vote for Tester.92
private citizens….”82
Blaming tribal sovereignty, Kortlander claims
He also framed his experience in terms of the the State of Montana lacks the authority to admin-
Deep State conspiracy, referring to federal agents ister and supervise elections conducted on reser-
as “the deep state entrenched.”83 He said these vations. That leads to, he claims, voter fraud being
“deep-staters” operate as if they are “invincible and “rampant” with no way to “guarantee the sanctity
untouchable.”84 and validity of each individual vote.”93 Various con-
His hatred of the BLM seems to have made him servative groups have picked up on these allega-
an instant ally of the Bundy family. Arrow to the tions and are touting them as fact during the cur-
Heart contains a chapter about the Bundys charac- rent election cycle.
terizing them as innocent victims. Kortlander says
the Bundys and their supporters have begun to Norman Semanko
“turn the spotlight on several governmental orga- Water Rights Attorney
nizations, including the BLM, that need to be scru-
tinized and taken to task for their abusive use and Norman Semanko is a GOP operative and attor-
displays of power.”85 ney from Idaho who has made a name for himself
Ammon Bundy wrote the forward to Arrow to representing water and property rights, including
the Heart while he was still in prison and has pro- efforts to undermine American Indian treaty rights.
moted the book on his Facebook page.86 Kortlander In Idaho, he has served as the chair of the state’s
thanked Bundy for his “willingness and determina- Republican Party; run a failed campaign for US Con-
tion” to inspire “countless Americans to join the gress; and served on the staff of US Sen. Larry Craig
fight against federal overreach.”87 (R-ID).94 At the national level, he currently serves on
In addition to his militia connections, Kortland- the Republican National Committee on Rules and
er works with the anti-Indian movement. He was Order of Business, which follows a stint as the Gen-
first elected to the Citizens Equal Rights Alliance eral Counsel for National Committee.95
board in 2005 and is still listed as a member.88 Fel- His reason for being invited to speak at the
low board member and Code of the West speaker Code of the West is most likely related to his years
Elaine Willman calls Kortlander a long-time friend.89 of working in water rights, including almost two
In the early 2000s, he was involved in litigation decades with the Idaho Water Users Association.
against a tax imposed by the Crow Tribe.90 He and While heading that group, Idaho ranchers filed a
other business owners refused to pay a resort tax, lawsuit against the BLM. Ranchers and the BLM had
with some threatening violence against the tribe if both filed thousands of overlapping claims to in-
needed.91 stream stock watering rights.

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A “New “ Code of the West Conference 11

After two decades of court battles, the Idaho The group putting on the Code of the West
Supreme Court ruled that the BLM couldn’t own event describes Semanko as working with North
the water rights, because it didn’t own livestock West Property Owners Alliance against the Coeur
and couldn’t use the water. “The cattle owner is d’Alene Tribe on water issues.102 Additionally, Se-
the one who owns the water right,” Semanko said, manko has previously shared the stage with Elaine
“because they put it to beneficial use.”96 The basis Willman at a 2017 water rights event in Idaho.103
of this argument – that using a resource creates a   His time with the Water Users Association
property right – is often used by militia supporters wasn’t perfect. While Semanko led the group, the
to justify the Bundys’ defiance of federal agencies. media discovered he had obtained loans from the
As an attorney, Semanko is well known among Association for over $170,000. These loans were
Idaho’s conservation community as a tenacious used for a down payment on a house and home im-
water and property rights attorney who has con- provement projects. While not illegal in Idaho, the
sistently opposed measures to protect clean water media noted the practice was illegal in other states.
and salmon habitat.97 He’s railed against “strident It also questioned if some of the loan was used to
radicals in the environmental movement” and “ex- pay off debt from his failed congressional campaign
tremist enviros” that he claims are attacking “the the year before. Semanko denied the charge.104
sovereignty of Idaho water.”98 Like many other The Code of the West crowd no doubt finds
speakers slated for the Code of the West event, Se- Semanko’s anti-tribal efforts intriguing. The Idaho
manko supports transferring public lands to states.99 Water Users Association fights against tribal water
While representing water users, Semanko has rights is similar to the fight over the CSKT Flathead
opposed American Indian tribal efforts to preserve Water Compact, during which a Western Mon-
treaty rights when it comes to water and represent- tana Water Users Association formed. Comprised
ed non-tribal members in litigation opposing tribal of non-tribal irrigators, this Association also chal-
sovereignty. 100 Semanko has lauded a Snake River lenged tribal water rights in the courts.
agreement with the Nez Perce Tribe that sacrificed
water rights guaranteed by treaty to the tribe in fa-
vor of non-tribal entities.101

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12 A “New “ Code of the West Conference

Endnotes
1) This West is OUR West, “A ‘New’ Code of the West.” Manzella, Facebook, Nov. 20, 2017
2) Midland Empire Republican Club, “The Spread of Tribalism,” 26) Kerry White, Facebook, July 30, 2018; Facebook, Jan. 14,
Sept. 7, 2018. 2018; Facebook, Feb. 7, 2018.
3) The Mental Militia, “This West is Our West,” Dec. 4, 2016. 27) Kerry White, Facebook, July 30, 2018.
4) Midland Empire Republican Club, “The Spread of Tribalism,” 28) Independent Record, “Proposal to Transfer Federal Lands
Sept. 7, 2018. to State Ownership Divisive, and Debated,” Aug. 31, 2014.
5) Laura O’Neil, Facebook, May 31, 2018; Letter for Ravalli 29) Montana Cowgirl, “Montana Lawmaker Says He Will Join
County Commission, Feb. 28, ,2015; Montana Legislative Armed Rebellion in Nevada,” April 17, 2014.
Services, Exhibit, March 27, 2013. 30) Kerry White, Facebook, Feb. 4, 2016.
6) Laura O’Neil, Facebook, Aug. 28, 2017. 31) Kerry White, Facebook, May 21, 2014.
7) A “New” Code of the West, Speaker Biographies. 32) Citizens for Balanced Use, E-mail, April 11, 2011; Bozeman
8) Montana Agri-Women, “Mid-Year Meeting,” April 22, 2017; Tea Party, E-mail, April 14, 2011.
Midland Empire Republican Club, “The Spread of Tribalism,” 33) Political Research Associates, The John Birch Society’s An-
Sept. 7, 2018. ti-Civil Rights Campaign of the 1960s, and Its Relevance To-
9) A “New” Code of the West, Speaker Biographies; Institute day, Jan. 21, 2014.
for Research and Education on Human Rights, “Anti-Indian 34) Southern Poverty Law Center, “Bringing Back Birch,” March
Escalation in Montana,” Nov. 3, 2015. 1, 2013.
10) Elaine Willman, Facebook, March 2, 2018. 35) Politico, “The John Birch Society is Back,” July 16, 2017.
11) Examples include Tightrope Productions and NSM88 Re- 36) The New American, “The New American’s Special Report on
cords. the Deep State,” Jan. 8, 2018.
12) Elaine Willman, Facebook, June 26, 2018. 37) Bear Witness Central Conference, “The Deep State: Ameri-
13) Midland Empire Republican Club, “The Spread of Tribal- ca Under Siege,” Jan. 13, 2018.
ism,” Sept. 7, 2018; Montana Agri-Women, “Mid-Year Meet- 38) Ibid.
ing,” April 22, 2017. 39) Ibid; Alex Jones Show Live, “New American Alex Newman
14) Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, Interview,” Feb. 24, 2018.
“Anti-Indian to the Core: Elaine Willman, the Citizens Equal 40) Eagle Forum Live, “Phyllis Schlafly Interviews Alex New-
Rights Alliance and the Citizens Alliance for Property Rights,” man about Dumbed-Down Education on Eagle Forum
May 19, 2017; Montana Agri-Women, “Mid-Year Meeting,” Radio,” Sept. 7, 2016.
April 22, 2017; Elias Alias, “Elaine Willman on Tribal Govern- 41) Right-Wing Watch, “Alex Jones Hails Manly Vladimir Putin
ments Part 4,” Oct. 16, 2017; Midland Empire Republican For Promoting ‘Masculine Men’ And Homeschooling,” May
Club, “The Spread of Tribalism,” Sept. 7, 2018. 27, 2015.
15) CERA Website, “CERA President Elaine Willman Speaks on 42) Hagmann Report, “Alex Newman - 06/25/2018 - Global-
Federal Indian Policy,” undated; American Lands Council, ism, The UN & a One World Government,” June 26, 2018.
“When did the Political Winds Shift?” Oct. 21, 2014. 43) Ibid.
16) Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, “An- 44) 2018 Red Pill Expo, Website, Conference Speakers.
ti-Indian Escalation in Montana,” Nov. 3, 2015. 45) Midland Empire Republican Club, “The Spread of Tribal-
17) Elias Alias, “Elaine Willman on Tribal Governments Part 4,” ism,” Sept. 7, 2018.
Oct. 16, 2017. 46) The New American, “Whistleblower: Federal Thug Behind
18) Elaine Willman, “Indian ‘Nations’ -- and Other Sham Terms: Bundy Fiasco Had ‘Kill Book,’” Dec. 19, 2017.
Let’s Speak Clearly and Truthfully,” Jan. 27, 2017 47) Right-Wing Watch, “Cruz Montana Leadership Team
19) News with Views, “The Spreading Epidemic of Tribalism in Includes ‘Agenda 21 Speaker,’” April 25, 2016.
America,” Jan. 11, 2016; Daily Interlake, “Alliance Cites Fear 48) Freedom Force International Second Congress, “Fighting
of Federal Tribal Policy,” Sept. 27, 2015; Elias Alias, “Elaine the Threat of Global Governance – Dan Happel,” December
Willman on Tribal Governments Part 6,” Oct. 16, 2017. 12, 2015; YouTube, “Agenda 21, World Government, FEMA
20) 2018 Red Pill Expo, Website, “Conference Speakers;” Re- Camps, Oregon Standoff, 2016 Election & More with Dan
doubt News, “Elaine Willman at the Red Pill Expo,” June 26, Happel,” Feb. 9, 2016.
2018; The New American, “Deep State Agenda and Schemes 49) YouTube, “Agenda 21, World Government, FEMA Camps,
Exposed at Red Pill Expo,” June 28, 2018. Oregon Standoff, 2016 Election & More with Dan Happel,”
21) Midland Empire Republican Club, “The Spread of Tribal- Feb. 9, 2016.
ism,” Sept. 7, 2018. 50) Ibid.
22) Billings Gazette, “White Calls Land Transfer Unrealistic,” 51) Connecting the Dots, “Update On The Bunkerville/Mal-
Aug. 31, 2014. heur Trials - Is Justice Being Served?” Nov. 18, 2017.
23) Belgrade News, “County May Ax Two from Planning Board,” 52) Montana Oath Keepers, Press Release, Jan. 1, 2011.
Aug. 9, 2011. 53) Montana Human Rights Network, Archives, Materials from
24) Montana Human Rights Network, “Going from the Margins Dan Happel Campaign Table, Oct. 20, 2010.
to the Mainstream,” May 2012. 54) Dan Happel, Website, “Ready to Take the Red Pill? Red Pill
25) Citizens for Balanced Use, E-mail, Oct. 25, 2010; Theresa Expo 2017,” May 11, 2017.

Montana Human Rights Network © September 2018


A “New “ Code of the West Conference 13

55) Spokesman Review, “Red Pill Expo Brings Leading Contrari- Bighorn Museum,” Jan. 25, 2018; Auction Central News,
ans to Spokane,” June 21, 2018. “Seized Artifacts Returned to Custer Battlefield Museum,”
56) Ibid. April 2, 2014; Cultural Heritage Lawyer, “Motion to Dismiss
57) Montana Human Rights Network, Archives, Notes from HB Filed in Kortlander Case - US Court of Federal Claims Issues
639 Hearing in House State Administration, March 12, 2009; Show Cause Order for Party’s Failure to Appear,” Feb. 5,
Montana Legislative Services, Video Archive for House State 2012.
Administration Committee hearing on HB 513, March 14, 79) Christopher Kortlander, Arrow to the Heart, 2018, p. 90.
2011. 80) Ibid, p. 76.
58) Montana Human Rights Network, Archives, Notes from 81) Christopher Kortlander, Press Release, Feb. 7, 2017.
HJ 26 Hearing in House Judiciary, Feb. 23, 2009; Montana 82) Ibid.
Human Rights Network, Archives, Notes from HR 3 Hearing 83) Christopher Kortlander, Arrow to the Heart, 2018, p. 76
in House Judiciary, April 15, 2009. and 100.
59) A “New” Code of the West, Speaker Biographies. 84) This West Is OUR West, “Author of Shocking Expose Talks
60) Dan Happel, “Dear Friends of Liberty,” June 25, 2010. about BLM Director William Woody’s Patterns of Abuse,”
61) Media Trackers, “GOP Chair Candidate Interviews: Dan Downloaded Sept. 6, 2018.
Happel,” June 22, 2015. 85) Christopher Kortlander, Arrow to the Heart, 2018, p. 145-
62) Ed Berry, “How Dan Happel Would Destroy Montana’s 159.
GOP,” June 23, 2015; Ed Berry, “Who Will Control Montana’s 86) Ammon Bundy, Facebook, Oct. 5, 2017.
Republican Party,” June 8, 2015. 87) Christopher Kortlander, Arrow to the Heart, 2018, p. 266.
63) A “New” Code of the West, Speaker Biographies 88) CERA News, October 2005.
64) Center for Western Priorities, Going to Extremes, July 7, 89) Midland Empire Republican Club, “The Spread of Tribal-
2016. ism,” Sept. 7, 2018.
65) Right-Wing Watch, “GOP State Rep: Bundy Standoff Pitted 90) Christopher Kortlander, Arrow to the Heart, 2018, p. 39.
‘Freedom-Loving Americans’ Against ‘Government-Depend- 91) Los Angeles Times, “REVENUE : Where Custer Last Stood,
ed Socialists,’” May 9, 2014. Businessmen Vow to Fight Tribal Tax,” July 10, 1996.
66) Center for Western Priorities, Going to Extremes, July 7, 92) Christopher Kortlander, Arrow to the Heart, 2018, p. 108-
2016. 120.
67) Ibid; Southern Poverty Law Center, “One More Enemy,” 93) Ibid, p. 108-119.
Feb. 10, 2017. 94) Spokesman Review, “New GOP Chairman has His Work Cut
68) Inlander, “Rep. Matt Shea Presents Oregon-Standoff Figure Out,” July 22, 2008.
Bosworth with ‘2016 Patriot of the Year’ Award,” Sept. 12, 95) Idaho Politics Weekly, “Guest Column: A Preview of the
2016. 2016 Republican National Convention,” July 16, 2017.
69) Huffington Post, “Matt Shea, Washington Legislator, Tells 96) Capital Press, “Bill Would Codify Landmark Water Rights
Tea Party Group To Buy Ammunition To Prepare For Eco- Victory in Idaho Law,” Jan. 10, 2017.
nomic Collapse,” Aug. 1, 2013. 97) Idaho Statesman, “Delegation Backs Craig’s Salmon Water
70) Center for Western Priorities, Going to Extremes, July 7, Rider,” Oct. 13, 2007; Boise Weekly, “Why We Fight for
2016; Southern Poverty Law Center, “Polarized Election Idaho’s Water,” April 27, 2005.
Season Marked by Extremist Candidates,” Oct. 19, 2012. 98) Boise Weekly, “Idaho Has Not Forgotten About Threats To
71) Coeur d’Alene Press, “Preparing for the ‘Inevitable Col- Our Water,” March 21, 2005; Boise Weekly, “Why We Fight
lapse,’” July 28, 2013; Coeur d’Alene Press, “Tea Time with For Idaho’s Water,” April 27, 2005.
the Posse: Inside an Idaho Tea Party Patriots Conference,” 99) Norman Semanko, Facebook, Feb. 21, 2016.
April 19, 2011. 100) Coeur d’Alene Press, “A Big Year in Water Rights,” Jan.
72) Polymontana, “Where Are the Protectors of Montana’s 7, 2018; Redoubt News, “Court Says NO to Tribe’s Water
People?” June 22, 2011. Rights Claims,” May 15, 2017; Seattle Times, “New Prece-
73) Southern Poverty Law Center, “A Sagebrush-Supporting dent Set for Upholding Idaho Tribal Court Decisions,” Nov.
State Legislator with National Political Ambitions has Ties to 6, 2017; Coeur d’Alene Tribe v. Kenneth and Donna Johnson,
America’s Largest Anti-Muslim Hate Group,” Feb. 22, 2017. August 2017.
74) Spokesman Review, “Red Pill Expo Brings Leading Contrari- 101 ) Western States Water Council, 2005 Annual Report.
ans to Spokane,” June 21, 2018. 102 ) This West is OUR West, “The Idaho Public Utilities
75) Arrow to the Heart, Website, Aug. 30, 2018. Commission Has Decided to Cancel the July 23rd Hearing in
76) Billings Gazette, “Small Town’s Owner Getting Back to Boise!” Aug. 31, 2018.
His ‘Original Mission’— Building a New Battle of the Little 103 ) Redoubt News, “North Idaho Water Rights Draws Large
Bighorn Museum,” Jan. 25, 2018. Crowd,” July 17, 2017.
77) Cultural Heritage Lawyer, “Motion to Dismiss Filed in Kort- 104 ) Idaho Statesman, “Idaho Nonprofit Director Owes Orga-
lander Case - US Court of Federal Claims Issues Show Cause nization $161K,” Oct. 18, 2011.
Order for Party’s Failure to Appear,” Feb. 5, 2012.
78) Billings Gazette, “Small Town’s Owner Getting Back to
His ‘Original Mission’— Building a New Battle of the Little

Montana Human Rights Network © September 2018