AP NEWS

Tourism campaign elements called ‘racist’ and removed

December 18, 2019 GMT

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Billings Chamber of Commerce has started to remove parts of its campaign that was criticized by a local blogger saying campaign language and imagery was tone-deaf and racist.

The Billings Gazette reports that blogger Alexis Bonogofsky published an article Monday criticizing three billboards reading “Onward Pioneer” and “Conquer New Endeavors.”

Officials say the campaign tagline read “Today is outs for the taking — and tomorrow too.”

Officials say the Visit Billings’ tourism website also promoted similar language.

Bonogofsky says the campaign was not culturally sensitive to hundreds of years of genocide, forced assimilation and racism against Native Americans.

Department executives say the “Forge Your Own Path” campaign was used for 18 months and “Onward Pioneers” was one of the multiple aspects of the campaign set to expire in 2020.

Executives say the intent was not malicious or to be racist.

Executives say officials from Visit Billings requested Tuesday that the billboards be removed and all visitor guides be pulled from local businesses.

Officials have not released an estimate for how much removing elements would cost.