September 07, 2012

Native issues at the 2012 Democratic convention

Native Americans speak out at DNC

By Cronkite NewsKyle Blackhorse, a 16-year-old from Phoenix, has enjoyed politics for a long time. He likes meetings, he likes thinking about the issues.

Blackhorse, a member of the Navajo, Tlingit and Yurok tribes, doesn't like to just talk. He wants to do something about the major issues facing the Native American community.

Blackhorse, his mother Lisa and about 100 other people, many of them Native American leaders from across the country, packed into a small room Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention for the Native American Council meeting.

They heard tribal leaders, U.S. representatives and a U.S. senator talk about the problems facing Native Americans across the country.
Elections 2012: American Indian Issues are Prominent at DNC

By Mark TrahantAmerican Indian issues are prominent at the Democratic National Convention. Tonight Denise Juneau, a Mandan and Hidatsa, who grew up on the Blackfeet Reservation, will speak. She’s the superintendent of public instruction and the first American Indian woman elected to a statewide office.

She’s speaking at 7 p.m. Est, so it’s not quite prime time. But people can tune in via the Democratic National Convention’s live stream, on some cable outlets, and on C-SPAN.

Even though it’s not on network television, it’s a big deal because it highlights American Indian issues, in this case, education, for delegates at the convention. It’s a step toward prime time when some future American Indian or Alaska Native politician will be hailed for their keynote speech (such as San Antonio Mayor Juli├ín Castro’s talk last night.)

There is a significantly greater presence of American Indian delegates–some 150 representatives–and issues at the Democratic National Convention than was present in Tampa at the Republican National Convention.
Elections 2012: I am the President: A Defense of Government

By Mark TrahantCandidate Obama had the luxury of campaigning on the Crow Reservation and clearly sending that Indian country matters. President Obama has continued that signal in ways large and small ranging from the White House Tribal Nations Conference to raising money from the Native American community.

Obama’s Thursday night acceptance speech was not a direct pitch to Indian country voters. Yet the policies he talked about directly impact life for Native people living on reservations, villages or cities.

“We don’t think the government can solve all of our problems, but we don’t think the government is the source of all of our problems,” Obama said. “Any more than our welfare recipients or corporations or unions or immigrants or gays or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles, because, because America, we understand that this democracy is ours.”

This single idea matters because the role of government is critical to Indian country. Tribal enterprises, whether a gas station, convenience store, or a casino, are government-run businesses.

It’s the same in Detroit. Obama’s investment in General Motors made it–briefly–a tribal enterprise of sorts. And now? “We are making things again,” Obama said. “I’ve met workers in Detroit and Toledo who feared they’d never build another American car. And today they can’t build them fast enough because we reinvented a dying auto industry that’s back on the top of the world.”

So this is the choice, the role of government. “Over and over, we’ve been told by our opponents that bigger tax cuts and fewer regulations are the only way, that since government can’t do everything, it should do almost nothing.” he said.

In Indian country governments do create jobs. Most of the jobs, in fact, the contrast, the choice in this election, at least for Indian country, might come down to this one idea.

Republicans have been attacking government for generations. Ronald Reagan summed it up succinctly when he said: “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”
Comment:  For more on the Democratic convention, see Juneau Addresses Democratic Convention and Indians at the 2012 Democratic Convention.

Below:  "Lorna Wilbur (Left), and Denise Juneau are advocates for both President Barack Obama and American Indians."

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