October 20, 2008

Giago endorses McCain

Tim Giago:  No longer undecided about the electionI listened to the supporters of Obama and read his plans for Indian country, but I was not impressed. His platform is a platform of promises. In my more than 30 years in the field of Indian media I have heard hundreds of politicians stand at the podium and say “Here is what I intend to do for you.” After reading the record of McCain I settled on his record. He was able to say, “Here is what I have already done for you.”

Going to do or have done? If some of the tribal leaders out there would take off their blinders they would recall politicians that said “I promise” and have met few that could proudly say, “This I have done.” One spews another long list of promises, the other presents a long list of accomplishments. Accomplishments or more promises: Which is best for Indian country?

McCain fought for and sponsored the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Since it became law NAGPRA has returned the remains of hundreds of Indians to their homelands for proper burial. The law has also protected Indian gravesites from demolition until the remains could be safely removed.

McCain has attempted to stop the federal recognition of Indian tribes by preventing them from going through the back door to gain recognition. He strongly opposes federal lawmakers from bypassing the Bureau of Indian Affairs and granting recognition to Indian tribes without fully exploring and investigating their claims of legitimacy.

Why did so many presidents of Indian colleges jump into the tank for Obama when it was McCain who has been their strongest supporter in Congress? McCain sponsored the legislation to reauthorize tribal colleges and he cast his vote in favor of the Native American Languages Act.

There is only one Native American serving as a federal prosecutor in this nation. She serves the District of Arizona and her name is Diane J. Humetewa, Hopi. She was recommended by McCain.
Comment:  That Giago would endorse McCain was predictable. Something like 80% of "undecided" voters end up voting for the candidate they were leaning toward. Giago obviously was leaning toward McCain, or at least away from Obama.

McCain's record on Indians

As I've asked before, what has McCain done lately for Indians? Let's look at Giago's list of reasons for choosing McCain.

1) The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and Native American Languages Act were both passed in 1990. That's 18 years ago, or ancient history in political terms. Obama undoubtedly would've voted for them if he'd been in Congress then.

2) McCain "has attempted to stop the federal recognition of Indian tribes by preventing them from going through the back door to gain recognition." One could consider this position pro-Indian: McCain doesn't want illegitimate tribes to gain recognition and thereby take resources away from legitimate tribes. Or one could consider it anti-Indian: Tribes tend to go through the "back door" only after the front door is closed in their faces. Why hasn't McCain reformed the recognition process so tribes can get an answer in a couple of years rather than a couple of decades, as is presently the case?

Moreover, why is Giago giving McCain so much credit for an "attempt"? McCain attempted to oppose Bush's budget-busting tax cuts before flipping like a moral coward and supporting them. Attempts shouldn't impress Giago or anyone too much.

McCain's position on recognition is mixed at best. To me it doesn't seem like much to brag about.

The Humetewa appointment

3) A little history on the Humetewa appointment from Indianz.com:Humetewa was recommended for the job by Sens. John McCain (R) and Jon Kyl (R) after Paul Charlton, the former U.S. Attorney, was fired by the Bush administration last December. But Bush passed over Humetewa when he appointed an interim U.S. Attorney in February.

Humetewa has worked for the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona and for McCain during his two tenures as chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.
Many people think Bush's corrupt Department of Justice fired Charlton and the other US attorneys for working too vigorously on Indian issues. As far as I know, McCain was MIA on these unethical and possible illegal firings. His compromised position (he called for Bush to fire Attorney General Gonzales after everyone else did) was arguably anti-Indian.

McCain couldn't get Humetewa appointed as the interim US Attorney, so how much clout did he have? It sounds as if she was Bush's second choice when he finally appointed her.

Perhaps most important, Humetewa was a longtime McCain backer. It doesn't take much daring to nominate one of your supporters--someone who agrees with you on the issues. I'd be more impressed if McCain did his "maverick" thing and appointed someone who wasn't in his camp already.

To answer the "What has McCain done lately?" question, let's give him one provisional point for nominating Humetewa and half a point for his stance on recognition. And...that's it. Out of dozens if not hundreds of legislative actions, Giago can come up with 1.5 examples of McCain's pro-Indian positions in the last 17 years.

Wow. If he's impressed with that...well, most Indians aren't. That's why they're overwhelmingly backing Obama.

Giago's black and white position

There's also this odd note in Giago's column:For those Indians who believe that Sen. Obama will somehow be more magnanimous to Indians simply because he is a minority, consider this: Many thousands of Indians were relocated from their reservations to cities like Dallas, Cleveland, Oakland and Los Angeles 50 years ago and they were moved into Black communities headed by Black community organizers. When the loaves of bread were handed out whom do you think ended up with the crumbs? Don’t take my word for it. Ask someone who has been on relocation.What does the relocation that happened before Obama's birth have to do with Obama? This sounds uncomfortably like veiled racism to me. Some blacks weren't fair to Indians so Obama won't be fair to Indians either.

I believe Giago was a Hillary Clinton supporter in the primaries. She hasn't been in the Senate that long and doesn't have any major Indian-oriented accomplishments. Bill Clinton may have a track record, but he made those decisions, not Hillary. Obama can pledge to follow in Bill's footsteps as well as Hillary can.

Most of Hillary's Indian platform consisted of promises similar to Obama's. Moreover, Clinton has endorsed Obama. So how did Giago go from Clinton's promises to McCain's meager record while skipping over Obama's promises? What's the common denominator between Clinton and McCain--besides their skin color, of course?

For more on the subject, see The 2008 Presidential Campaign.


dmarks said...

Congratulations on finding the one photo of John McCain that looks like Dick Cheny without glasses.

Rob said...

I've posted several items on Indian-black relations over the years. The most recent one is Indians Prejudiced Against Blacks. The whole Cherokee Freedman issue is arguably a racial one, as is the prejudice against the Mashantucket Pequots.

Anonymous said...

Whose is Giago?

John McCain has the notoriety of being as bad a leader as he was a soldier. He blindly followed Sen. Goldwater, accepting numerous contributions and favours from members of the Phoenix 40 and others culminating in the Keating 5 scandal. That "economic and executive club" the Phoenix 40, of which McCain and Goldwater were members, fooled the American people that the Dine' and Hopi were about to go to war. It forced the 'humane' concept of dividing the land, forcing 10,000 Dine and 100 Hopi to move from their homes, giving the land to Peabody Western Coal to mine. John McCain oversaw the largest forced removal of the Dine', even larger that when Kit Carson forced the Dine' into concentration camps at Ft. Sumner in 1864.
If this Giago person can ignore a laundry list of such crimes and McCain's opportunist history then he has no memory. I for one will not wait for the crumbs of a McCain administration to fall to the First Nations or wait for his acceptance of the Bush Doctrine to keep us in a perpetual state of war.
Yeeigo Obama!

Rob said...

Tim Giago is perhaps the leading Native journalist in the country. He founded the Lakota Times, which eventually became Indian Country Today. I'd count him as an "elder statesman" among Indians.