There I was.
Having a great morning, sipping on some tea from my favorite local coffee shop. Knowing in the peripheries of my mind that somewhere, somehow, a Cascade County Representative was making a mockery of themselves and our city. But alas, I was blissfully unaware of exactly what was occurring.
And then it happened.
A friend sent a photo of Great Falls’ very own, LOLA (aggressive capitalization intended) Sheldon-Galloway sporting a vomit-inducing, repugnant fringe number while attending today’s House Judiciary Committee meeting which included a hearing on HB 163 – a missing and murdered Indigenous women task force bill.
I’d say that seeing the photo was like watching a car crash, but it’s more like watching those cyst removal videos on Tik Tok. Like, “Damn, I don’t want to see this but apparently the universe wanted to present this to me.” You don’t *really* want to witness it, but it’s now been put in front of your face, and even though your stomach kind of hurts and you want to look away… you can’t.
Since “Discovery” [insert a massive eye roll here], Indigenous people, particularly women, have been stolen from their homes and forced to perform sexual acts with, carry out manual labor for, and bear children to colonizers. A major contributing factor to this? The sexualization, fetishization, and dehumanization of Indigenous people. When colonizers, and particularly those holding political office, have woven legal policies and heighten rotten social customs to distance themselves from Indigenous people we get: LOLA, in fringe.
Truly, it doesn’t take the late Joan Rivers to point out what an atrocity the caped leather vest is, especially paired with what appeared to be double braids in her hair. But we’re not here to pretend play ‘Fashion Police’, as fun as that may be. What we are here for is to call out our local representation to leave sexualized imagery of Indigenous people in the past, not present it on a statewide platform in Committee meetings.
While we’d love to believe that LOLA has turned a page and today’s get up is how she’s showing her support and solidarity for the MMIW/MMIP crisis (however misguided), her documented history of voting against protecting and uplifting Indigenous people makes it hard to give her the benefit of the doubt.
Some specific instances from back in 2019 include: a no vote to HB 33 – a bill to extend a Montana Indian Language Preservation program, voting no to HB 42 – a bill to extend the Cultural Integrity and Commitment Act, and yet another no to HB 135 – a bill to create a tribal college credit transfer and student opportunity task force.
Knowingly using the likeness and sterotypical, wild west fantasy-esque imagery of Indigenous people while simultaneously and continuously proposing legislation that will no doubt harm that same population is right on track for LOLA.
Today’s showing is a good reminder that LOLA is in fact simply one of many wolves in sheep’s clothing (or colonizers clothing) ‘representing’ Great Falls.