April 20, 2013

DeLaune: Politicians ignore Native concerns

After criticizing Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for her alleged grandstanding, a columnist notes her indifference to Native issues:

Elizabeth Warren, Heidi Heitkamp, Markwayne Mullin and Us

By Cole R. DeLauneNow, even more disturbing anecdotes have emerged regarding the antagonism Warren and her staff continues to display toward Natives. According to Lisa Begay, an Arizona activist and member of the grassroots organization Reservation Rats, “Last week, six Narragansetts who helped her during the election went back and forth between Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and DC trying to meet the Senator. She did not even give them the time of day. Her staff didn't bother to reply to their emails either.”

Sadly, such disregard is symptomatic of the prevalent attitude among DC's elite when it comes to indigenous peoples. Heidi Heitkamp declared her desire to be a "voice" for "Indian Country" when she needed every vote she could muster in a hotly contested race against Rick Berg. And although her margin of victory in that election is conventionally attributed to the backing she amassed among the nations of North Dakota, the freshman Senator has largely ignored their objections to the construction of the Keystone pipeline. In recent weeks, she joined 16 other Democrats in a symbolic filibuster-proof affirmation of the TransCanada project authored by John Hoeven.

Perhaps most irresponsibly, Congressman Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma's 2nd District prioritized his antipathy toward gays, lesbians, and other sexual minorities above his support for VAWA. As a member of the CNO, the Westville rancher co-authored a resolution with Chickasaw citizen Tom Cole to strengthen language in the legislation pertaining to questions of tribal jurisdiction, but was ultimately willing to jettison what progress was accomplished for indigenous women because of "details" concerning LGBT concessions in other articles of the bill. Talk about tunnel vision.
Comment:  Like Elizabeth Warren, Heidi Heitkamp is a Democrat. Markwayne Mullin is a Republican.

For more on Elizabeth Warren, see "Not an Indian" Sign for Brown and Brown Is "Bay State Birther".

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