May 23, 2008

Obama tackles tough issues

A look at Barack ObamaIn the run-up to June 3, though, Obama hasn't played it safe or sat the fence on Indian issues. A direct engagement with intractable troubles was on display already in April, when Obama did a sit-down interview with the Montana Tribune. An exchange on the BIA has acquired added relevance since the recent resignation of Carl Artman as the Interior Department's assistant secretary for Indian affairs. The move, unexplained and unexpected, has left many Indian people with heavy concerns about the agency's future. Obama said some of what several of them have not wanted to commit to the record: "The Bureau of Indian Affairs has become sort of a backwater. It doesn't have a lot of clout in the administration. I want to put it front and center, along with other agencies, because on every indicator, Native Americans are having a much tougher time than the population at large."

The front-running Obama has met Indian issues head-on, even where they could put him at odds with other voters.

His own allies, for instance. Rep. Diane Watson, D-Calif., has already taken a slap at Obama's "campaign for change" by accusing him, in the headline of an essay, of "politics as usual" for supporting a court resolution of the Cherokee freedmen issue. Watson's bill, H.R. 2824 in the House of Representatives, would penalize the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma for trying to expel its freedmen, tribal citizen descendants of slaves and free blacks who lived among the Cherokee before, during and after the Civil War. The bill has 24 co-sponsors, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Thirty-five CBC members have also threatened to oppose passage of a bill to reauthorize the Native American Housing and Self-Determination Act if it doesn't cancel Cherokee funding under the bill until the tribe recognizes freedmen and their descendants as citizens.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see The 2008 Presidential Campaign.


Anonymous said...

If Obama gets in, it could be a good time to be a registered Indian with a high percentage of Black blood quantum. An example could be like some Eastern Indians such as the Seminoles, Massachusetts Mashpee and other new England Tribes.

There are a few other tribes much like the Cherokee Freedmen.

Will the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) be sticking their noses deeper into Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Business?

Rob said...

It could be a good time to be an Indian in general, since Obama has pledged to help Indians.

But I don't think he's promised to do anything special for blacks. Unlike Hillary Clinton, he's been careful to avoid race-specific rhetoric.