Montana Ethic Project: Still waiting in Indian Country


Joey and Libbie Early

The late Gordon Belcourt, a Blackfeet who was executive director for the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council, talks about challenges and opportunities facing Montana Indians.

This is the 18th chapter of the 32-part video series “The Montana Ethic Project.” This chapter features the late Gordon Belcourt, a Blackfeet Indian who was executive director for the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council, speaking on “A Montana Native Perspective.” You can watch the whole video below. Here is how it begins:

“Good day everyone. My name is Gordon Belcourt. I’m a member of the Blackfeet Tribe in northwest Montana. I come from a tribal traditional community on the reservation called Star School. All my family members have been on the reservation for all of their lives. Growing up in that small community of about 300 people, I really didn’t know an outside world existed until I left.”

Here is another, edited excerpt from Belcourt’s presentation:

“The issue around citizenship is complex. Basically we gave up millions and millions of acres of  land—the Blackfeet, I’m speaking of—in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, the Dakotas, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, in return for signing treaties with the Federal Government that acknowledged we should have access to support including education, health and welfare. Yet this support has been suspect. We really receive only a fraction of this support. Even today we have to battle at the Federal level because they, and the state of Montana, have to be held accountable for acknowledging those treaty obligations.

“It is my opinion that the Federal Government acknowledges those treaty obligations through relationships with tribes as sovereign nations, but the state of Montana has room for improvement in terms of defining the role of the tribes. Tribes are basically seen as 501(c) 3 non-profit making corporations and sub-components of county government here in the state. This causes problems in terms of trying to get work done on a variety of issues.”

PERC_Logo_MontanaEthicPERC—the Property & Environment Research Center—is a proud sponsor of the Montana Ethic Project. To learn how PERC’s ideas can help us honor one another’s rights to land, water, and wildlife,visit

First week: Project introduction.

Second week: Richard Drake on “Terrorism and the Consolation of History.”

Third week: Mike Gear on “The Value of Athletics.”

Fourth week: Franke Wilmer on “Gender Equity.”

Fifth week: Gordon Brittan on “The Founding Fathers.”

Sixth week: Jim Posewitz on “Montana Sportsmen and the Hunter’s Ethic.”

Seventh week: The Rev. Jessica Crist on “Religion and Politics: Can They Co-exist?”

Eighth week: Chuck Tooley on “The Montana Character.”

Ninth week: Steve Bullock on “Citizens United v. Montana.”

10th week: Carol Williams on “The Imperative for Female Government Participation.”

11th week: Bob Rowe on Technological Development.”

12th weekGeorge Metcalfe on “Economic Development in Africa and Its Relationship to Montana.”

13th weekBruce Smith on “Montana’s Food Economy.”

14th week: Peggy Beltrone on “Montana Wind Energy—Business and Politics.”

15th week: Mark Solon on “Creating an Intermountain West Startup Economy.”

16th week: Bill Yellowtail on “Futuring and Native Leadership.”

17th week: Judy Martz on “Trust in the Lord and He Will Direct Your Path.”

18th week: Bob Brown on “Teddy Roosevelt’s Shadow in Montana’s Big Sky.”

Next week: Dorothy Eck on “The Right to Know and the Montana Constitution.”

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