“Day of the Cowboy” Not Inclusive Enough? In Montana?
A simple resolution to declare "The National Day of the Cowboy" got rejected in Montana...because the term cowboy wasn't inclusive enough? That news fired up the CEO of the PBR (Professional Bull Riders). He got so fired up, he nearly pulled the plug on bringing the PBR back to Montana in 2020. (Don't worry, the PBR is staying in Billings)
Based off of Phil Drake's report in The Great Falls Tribune, these are some of the remarks that set off folks across the country:
A resolution calling for cowboy-peppered Montana to participate in the National Day of the Cowboy has been put out to pasture after a spirited floor debate in which lawmakers also debated the merits of adding the word “cowgirl” into the mix.
On Thursday, Rep. Jessica Karjala, D-Billings, referenced women who were accomplished riders and rodeo competitors and suggested Montana create its own Montana Cowboy and Cowgirl Day.
Click here to read Drake's full report. Plus, below you can read the full commentary posted by PBR CEO Sean Gleason.
Gleason joined us on Thursday's Montana Talks statewide radio show. Here's a portion of that discussion:
FULL COMMENTARY BY BPR CEO Sean Gleason:
This morning I decided to cancel our event in Billings, MT in 2020.
It is unfortunate. We’ve held a marquee bull riding in Billings for 24 straight years, starting in 1996, making it the sport’s longest-running event. Montana is one of the most spectacular, beautiful and historic places in America that we visit. The cowboys turn out in droves, and the fans are gracious, knowledgeable and passionate.
But why should PBR continue to bring one of the 26 special, prestigious events that celebrate the best cowboy athletes in the world to Montana, a place where cowboys aren’t welcome?
The State’s legislators, who probably only get close to a cow when driving through a fast-food restaurant, decided to vote down a measure to recognize the National Day of the Cowboy because the term “cowboy” wasn’t inclusive enough.
We have enough problems keeping the western lifestyle and cowboy heritage alive in urban markets across this country…but Montana? It’s like Nebraska disavowing corn, Michigan turning against cars, or New York City banning the advertising awards.
And the hypocrisy! The State Capitol building in which they made this ill-informed decision was undoubtedly built by cowboys in 1896. The Rotunda features four paintings deemed at the time to depict the most important citizens of the State: a trapper, a gold miner, a Native American, and, you guessed it, a cowboy.
You can imagine Lady Liberty, who sits atop the historic dome, shaking her head and wanting to scream out, “I’m a cowboy, too.”
And if Charles M. Russel, the most famous cowboy painter of all-time were still alive, he’d demand the return of the building’s most prized painting, “Lewis & Clark Meeting Indians at Ross’ Hole.” That one is hanging in the U. S. House of Representatives.
Every State in this nation should celebrate the National Day of the Cowboy as a simple nod to the men and women -- of all races, creeds and color — who built this nation and represent a way of life. It’s not where you live or what you wear, the color of your skin or even your gender. It’s HOW you live your life.
Cowboys are honest and brave. They sacrifice, work hard, love the land and their country, treat animals with respect, and always help their neighbors. Yet Montana politicians have found nothing to celebrate or acknowledge about those values associated with the American Cowboy.
If the strong and unanimous (to put it mildly) reaction from the supportive women who commented on my first post isn’t enough to dispel the fabricated myth that the term “cowboy” isn’t inclusive enough, then why not just acknowledge the cowboy for those values? If we can have an International Day of the Woman, why can’t we have a day that acknowledges the most iconic symbol of American history, in a State that’s uniquely associated with the lifestyle?
I guess the PC culture we have devolved into, waging war on all forms of masculinity and even the Founding Fathers, has now turned its attention to attacking cowboys.
Well, if the goal of the Montana State Legislature was to avoid offending anyone, I am pretty sure that everyone who associates with the western lifestyle is as offended as I am. I woke up this morning with an “enough’s-enough” attitude and decided that the decision of Montana politicians has to be met with some consequence.
I decided to take our annual event, which generates millions of dollars in economic benefit for Montana, to one of the cowboy-friendly places clamoring for our sport.
Then I remembered our cowboy brothers and sisters who have been supporting us for 24 years. Despite the small-minded act of short-sighted politicians, we can’t abandon our fans.
A cowboy never runs from a fight that can’t be avoided and occasionally has to hold the line. While we may not have a national day of recognition in Montana, the best cowboy athletes in the world will be there for many years to come to keep up the good fight alongside the good people of Montana.