By Rob Capriccioso
From fighting for environmental justice to struggling with extreme poverty to coping with an early childhood rife with domestic violence to having a brother who committed suicide, Honkala says her story mirrors that of many American Indians today.
It’s a reality that few mainstream politicians share, and she believes it is important for Native people to support candidates who understand them from personal experience.
“The Democrats and Republicans have thrown indigenous people down the stairs time and again,” Honkala says. “It’s only when we say ‘no, this is enough, I am leaving this abusive relationship’ that we can truly be free.”
But can a third party, itself struggling for widespread recognition, really be a beacon of light for Indian country?
Honkala says yes, and shared her strong thoughts on the two-party system, compromised values, and tribal involvement in politics in a pre-election interview with Indian Country Today Media Network.
It’s time we go back to our roots where we live communally and collectively. We need to focus on the real priorities in life. We need to stand up for what is right. That is what the Green Party platform is all about.
Are there many Native Americans in the Green Party?
I think that Winona LaDuke [who is Anishinaabe and who ran as a Green Party vice-presidential candidate with Ralph Nader in 1996 and 2000] really paved the way. She brought in a lot of Natives to the party. Other folks, including myself, have worked hard to connect with tribal communities. I hope to see in the years to come an even bigger increase because neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have similar values to most indigenous people. The Greens value the Earth and the climate. They value taking care of each other. They value culture and sovereignty.
It is a matter of mass education [to get more people involved], which is quite difficult in this era of corporate funding of American elections. The Democrats in particular have worked hard to keep away Third Party ideas, especially among tribes. They have paid lip service to issues that many tribal citizens care about, like climate change, but they haven’t taken strong action on it.
For more on Winona LaDuke, see Winona LaDuke Changed Our World and Warrant Issued for LaDuke.
Below: "Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala sit outside the debate in Hempstead, Long Island."