Research and development were items of interest to a small delegation from Blackfeet country to Washington, D.C., last week as Chairman Willie Sharp and Harry Barnes of Blackfeet Advanced Technologies worked with Sen. Jon Tester to assure continued funding to the fledgling tribal industry.
Allied with Radiance Technologies at the Blackfeet Industrial Park, Blackfeet Advanced Technologies (BAT) is a separate entity that is currently exploring its own destiny in the field of Adaptive Lightweight Materials. Barnes of BAT arrived in DC along with Chairman Sharp and met with Senator Tester and Johnny Walker of Walker and Associates. Walker, Sharp explained, used to work for Radiance in resin fiber technology, but with an emphasis on research and development. Sharp said he is also an expert in understanding military protocol.
Walker accompanied Sharp and Barnes to Rep. Denny Rehberg’s office on March 1 and had coffee with Senators Tester and Baucus on March 2. The pair met with Baucus staff members Will Sehestedt and Richard Litsey; then they had lunch with Anne Jennings of the Department of Interior. Finally, they met with Sen. Tester and Mark Jette of his staff.
“Now that there’s a lot of hoopla over the continuing resolution,” said Sharp, “there are different ways of moving them through, and Tester’s staff and Max are both assisting. They’ll always need research and development for defense jobs, but it won’t happen overnight because of all the bickering in D.C.”
Sharp said the Tribe is looking to partner with Montana’s colleges to attain trained tribal members who are qualified to work at the high tech industry. He said that BAT now employs around 20 members, and the industry is looking at commercial ventures as well as government contracts.