East Coast Native - Letters to the Editor - Election 08
Due to technical diffucties this issue was delayed 2 weeks. The election is over and Obama won covincinely over McCain. We are very happy to have a Presidnet who actually mentioned Native Americans as a people.
Even though the election is over we felt it important too still incude the following editorial and Obama's pre-election policy on Native Americans:
Obama Fighting for First Americans
Raphael Szykowski -
Raphael is a Kuna/Rappahanock singer and songwriter who comes from a family of perfroming artists. He began to perform at Theater for New City and the American Indian Community House in New York. He's collaborated with Native women's group Ulali and the Turtle Gals. He's also appeared with Keith Secola and has shared billing with Charlie Hill, Floyd Red Crow Westerman and John Trudell.
His Struggle to live clean and sober brought him to Michigan wharer he would train as a substance abuse and mental health counselor int the NAtive Community and earn a Master's Degree in Social Networkfrom Western Michigan University. A smart-ass with a guitar, Raphael's biting satirical lyrics reflect one
Native man's experience and beliefs. Born in New York City, Raphael's recording of HALF-BREED BLUES and other songs reflect the craziness inherited from the legacy of genocide suffered by both sides(Indian and Jewish) of his family.
To vote or not to vote:
Many of us in Indian country might ask “why bother? What difference could it possibly make?” Or perhaps you might feel you make a bigger political statement by not participating in the Great White Father’s election, in which few or no candidates address your needs anyway. Some of us may propose we are members of sovereign nations and therefore don’t participate in another country’s elections. Perhaps that concept is still reasonable for you. It sounded great to me when I was 19 years-old and invincible. Thirty years later however, I find myself thinking in terms of practicality. I pump gas, pay utility bills and loans through the internet banking system, visit doctors, make insurance claims, and yes, even consider what contributions I could be making for the generations that follow mine. I begrudgingly admit I participate in this system more than I used to- and maybe I’m a little embarrassed about that. Have I sold out? I hope not. Have I decided its better to make a small contribution in my corner of the world and yield some hope in a few peoples’ lives than to recklessly spew my righteous rage at a system that will not listen and does not especially care? Well yeah! I’d like to see myself as someone who does a small amount of good for somebody somewhere instead of someone who grandiosely talks some talk that serves nobody but his own ego. In 2008, it could be wiser to vote than to abstain.
History may tell us the devil we know is a better choice than the one we don’t. This year however, there seem to be are a number of tribal leaders from all over Indian country who are willing to depart from that proverb. From Arizona to Maine and Alaska to North Carolina we can see our leaders endorsing this newcomer- the candidate that is arguably untested. Leaders from the following tribes have made public endorsements for Barrack Obama: Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Ft. Peck Reservation, Navajo Nation, Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Crow Nation, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Franks’ Landing Indian Community, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Ely Shoshone Tribe, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, Yankton Sioux Tribe, Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, Tlingit Tribe, Alaska, Alaska Inter-Tribal Council, Suquamish Tribe, Tulalip Tribes of Washington, General Council of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, Spirit Lake Tribe, Nisqually Indian Tribe, Conf. Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Hannahville Potawatomi, Pokagon Band of Pottawatomi, Klamath Tribes, Passamaquoddy Tribe, Tohono O'odham Nation , Hopi Tribe, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, Pueblo of Pojoaque, Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribe, Tulalip Tribes of Washington, Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation , Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs, Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Northern Cheyenne Tribe ,Akiak Native Community, Chippewa Cree of the Rocky Boy Reservation , and Pyramid Lake Paiute.
No doubt I’ve left out a few nations and surely among these Indigenous nations lurk McCain supporters. My point is I can’t remember when Indian country was last willing to support a non-tribal member (or anybody) with this same fervor. I’ve even heard news that the Crow nation has adopted Mr. Obama and made him an honorary member? I’m curious why so many of us are lending this relatively unknown so much trust. History has taught us not to believe everything the man (or woman) from Washington promises in an election year, right? Sure, Obama co-sponsored the Indian Healthcare Improvement Act and sure he talks abouts full funding for Indian Health Services and increased funding for tribal colleges, primary, and secondary schools. I’m halfway impressed when he refers to Indian treaty committements as “paramount law and I’ll fulfill those committments” Maybe I’m a little cynical as I approach middle age. My friends and colleagues identify one of my annoying character flaws as needing a logical explanation for why things happen.
Things have to make sense for me. So here is my attempt to convince Native people why it makes sense to vote and vote democrat this year. First, I’m seeing a generation of young people with hope. Barrack Obama has energized the 20-something crowd. They are out en masse supporting this candidate. Perhaps it is worth my time to support the generation born post-1975. It would appear they have a renewed hope for protecting the earth for future generations, for living in a world with sustainable energy, racial/gender equality, living reasonably debt free, and a world with a more equitable distribution of the wealth. Wow, remember when we thought that was do-able? Remember when we thought we could change the world instead of believing that mere survival and/or taking care of number one would have to suffice?
Secondly, its time to remove this current administration. I’m convinced John McCain is the darling of big business and “old school methods” of producing energy. He is in favor of lining his pockets today at the expense of tomorrow. His energy policies will ultimately kill our mother earth. Ask the Navajo band that was relocated from their home in Arizona to a nuclear landfill in Nevada so Peabody Coal could strip mine. Yeah, that happened under McCain’s watch. He co-sponsored the bill that expedited that act. Ask the Indigenous nations of Alaska how Sarah Palin feels about subsistence hunting and fishing for Alaska Natives and to what lengths she went to deny them that subsistence living. I don’t know what Barrack Obama can actually deliver. I believe however, the “Maverick” and the “Hockey Mom” have some pretty frightening thoughts about what constitutes change. I don’t know about you but I’m voting for the lesser of the evils. Somebody has to have enough faith to believe the devil we know is not necessarily the safetest choice.