Billings tourism campaign deemed racist, pulled
With a tagline reading “Today is for the taking—and tomorrow, too” overlaid on photographs of white people in nature, the Visit Billings “Onward Pioneers” campaign is under siege by critics who claim the vernacular is analogous to rhetoric used to incite and justify the genocide of indigenous peoples in the Americas. “The language being used by Visit Billings is the same language that was used to justify the genocide of Native Americans: onward pioneer, conquer, take, it’s ours,” wrote one such critic, Alexis Bonogofsky, on her blog “East of Billings.” “Words have definitions. Words have histories. Those words in this geographical place cannot be used without putting them in this context,” added Bonogofsky, who found the campaign’s verbiage to be eerily similar to that describing Manifest Destiny in the 1800s. Her words are not standalone opinions, and the Billings Chamber of Commerce, which manages Visit Billings, has begun removing billboards, online content and guidebooks that promote the messaging.