August 28, 2008

Not enough Indian issues?

For Some, Not Enough Being Said About Native IssuesUnited Tribes Technical College President David Gipp took the main stage at the convention Tuesday, stressing health care, public schools and violence in Indian Country.

Rosebud Sioux tribal council member Robert Moore sang the national anthem Wednesday.

And on Thursday, a 20-year-old Inupiaq woman from Alaska named Holly Miowak Stebing will join Sen. Barack Obama backstage before he accepts the Democratic presidential nomination.

Many see Native issues being addressed more prominently this week than at previous conventions.

Still, some Native leaders see room for progress in getting their people's concerns placed front and center within the Democratic Party.

“Never has enough been said (about Native issues) in my opinion, but we’re getting there," said Steve Banner, second speaker of the Muscogee Nation of Oklahoma, standing outside the Native American Caucus meeting at the Denver Convention Center on Wednesday morning. "We’re getting to the table. We just need to make ourselves comfortable and start participating.”
And:Kevin Killer, a 29-year-old Oglala Sioux man seeking a seat in the South Dakota Legislature, blames both Natives and Democratic Party leaders for failing to get Native issues on the national agenda.

He would like to see the Native American Caucus focus more on youth and alternative energy strategies. As for the national Democratic Party, leaders need to work harder to get Natives involved in leadership positions, Killer said.

But he praised Sen. Barack Obama for hiring Wizipan Garriott, a young Rosebud Sioux man, to serve as his First Americans Vote director. Killer said the Democratic Party also has worked to listen to Native people, even allowing them to change their party organization's name from the Native Americans Council to the First Americans Council.

“I think there’s an intent to include more Natives in the agendas," he said. “It’s a process, and it takes a while.”

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