I began to get email with a long list of charges against Gov. Palin much of it totally without merit and most of it totally false. Many of the false charges labeled Gov. Palin as “anti-Indian.” However, most of the email from Native Americans failed to mention a most pertinent fact; Gov. Palin’s husband, Todd, has a grandmother from Bristol Bay who is a member of the Yup’ik Tribe of Alaska. Palin’s daughter, Bristol, was named after the land of her father’s ancestors. All of Palin’s children were home-schooled on many of the beliefs and practices of the Yup’ik people out of respect for their indigenous great grandmother. And I suppose those charging Palin as anti-Indian failed to see her wearing a beaded Indian barrette and Indian designed earrings during a recent television interview.
All of that may be neither here nor there, but it clearly points out that this election has turned into a very personal one for the Indian people of America. Let’s try to look at this entire situation with an open mind. There is a question that is asked more often than not of late by several Indian Republicans: What has the Democratic Party done for you lately?
Too often Democrats, and I used to be one before I decided to become an Independent, look to their party as their saviors and more often than not, they have been disappointed, but they keep voting as Democrats. Consider this; one of the most important pieces of Indian legislation in the past 100 years, Public Law 93-638, the Indian Education and Self-Determination Act, came under a Republican president; Richard Nixon. The Sacred Blue Lake of the Taos Pueblo was returned to that tribe against fierce opposition from the white ranchers of that region under the Nixon Administration. Giving land back to the Indians? Unheard of until then.
Palin named her daughter Bristol after the land of her father’s ancestors? I'd be more impressed if Palin had used the Yup'ik name for the land rather than the Anglo-Saxon name imposed on the Yup'iks.
The real irony of this column is Giago's question to Indians: What has the Democratic Party done for you lately? His answer is to point out what the Republican Party did forty years ago, when the moderate Rockefeller Republicans were in power. These people haven't controlled the GOP for 28 years--ever since Reagan won the presidency.
Giago wants to know what the Democratic Party has done lately? What has the Republican Party done lately? Try naming something the present administration has accomplished, Tim. Or at least something that the majority of Americans under 50 might remember.
Here are some things the GOP is responsible for: Supreme Court decisions against tribal sovereignty. Insufficient funding for Indian services. Failure to resolve the Indian trust scandal. Attempts to limit Indian gaming. The list goes on and on.
For more on the subject, see Why Indians Are Democrats.