A Wyoming newspaper is standing by its reporting that a state lawmaker used a racial slur to describe Native Americans while making a case against expanding Medicaid.
The Rock Springs Rocket-Miner reported on Wednesday that during Tuesday testimony in the Wyoming legislature about expanding the Medicaid program, state Rep. Allan Jaggi (R) was one of the few lawmaker to speak against the idea.
“They (tribal members) are covered under a federal deal,” Jaggi said, according to the paper. “The Injuns are going to be taken care of.”
On Thursday, the Rock Springs Rocket-Miner said that Jaggi had called, and “vehemently denied” using the slur.
“I surely did not say that. I did not say ‘Injuns,’” Jaggi insisted. “That is not in my vocabulary no more than I would call blacks the other word.”
But Rock Springs Rocket-Miner Managing Editor Deb Sutton said that the paper was standing by the quote.
Northern Arapaho Business Council member Richard Brannan told the paper that it felt like “we are still in the 18th century in Wyoming.”
“We are American Indians, not ‘Injuns,’” he pointed out.
Republican state Rep. Bernadine Craft said that Jaggi’s use of the word was “a reminder to all of us to be careful. Even when we don’t mean anything hurtful, it can be perceived as such, and it behooves us to be careful.”
But Uinta County Republican Party Chairwoman Lisa Eyre argued that the term was not at all derogatory.
“I don’t see why that would be offensive,” she opined. “I grew up around (American) Indians my whole life, and I don’t remember them being too offended by words like that.”