Monday, September 8, 2008

Obama and McCain on Native Issues

I recieved several e-mails in the last 24 hours that struck me as ironically timed.

The first, an e-mail from the McCain camp, announcing:
We are in the process of forming Alaska's grassroots efforts in all of our
communities and neighborhoods to spread the word for the McCain/Palin

Well, welcome to the Alaskan race... about a year late, and two months from the general election. McCain, for some reason, discovered Alaska is one of the 50 states he wants to be president of at the eleventh hour.

The second was a document on Obama's stand on Alaska Native issues. I don't mean American Indian/Alaska Native issues - I mean Alaska Native. He's already had a Native American issues page (below) on the books for quite some time. Most importantly for Alaskans, his campaign has been plugging away in Alaska, opening office after office in some of the bigger towns, and traveling to the furthest reaches.

From the opening:

There is no one‐size‐fits‐all solution to issues of importance to Alaska Native peoples and rural communities. Barack Obama will work to ensure that the
unique concerns of Alaska Natives are recognized and respected at the federal

In this Alaska Native issue "fact sheet", he addresses issues that are both general, and yet important to Alaska Native people (reforming No Child Left Behind, veteran's affairs, economy,) specific to Native people in the U.S. (sovereignty, Indian Health Care Reauthorization Act, Native languages), and specific to Alaska Native people (gas pipeline, climate change in Alaska, subsistence in Alaska). From the subsistence section:

Barack Obama supports federal subsistence protections for Alaska Native communities. He will oppose efforts to reduce protections for this sustainable lifestyle. Barack Obama respects the constitutional right of Alaskans and all Americans to keep and bear arms. He recognizes that guns are important tools and an essential part of the Alaska way of life.

Through consultation, campaign time and basic common sense, Barack Obama has already begun to dig into the issues around Alaska, and Alaska Native issues.

After 44 years in Alaska, and marrying an Alaska Native man, Sarah Palin has yet to form any sort of opinion or plan, though in her campaign for governor, we did discover she "treasured" Alaska Native cultures. And while John McCain has only recently discovered Alaska voters matter, I can only imagine it will be too much to hope he will discover there are Alaska Native people that come with it.

Obama sent out this video for Alaskans, in which he addresses specific energy issues in Alaska, including Rural crisis. Although heartening, it is dismal to think out governor still has not addressed this. Well - she did line-item veto that energy overage funding in rural boroughs, so she does know the crisis exists...

I think I've reached a new level of frustration with the whole election today - that Ms. Palin is being heralded in the media and by Alaskans as a champion of Alaska, yet a man who has not yet been here (keeping our fingers crossed!) has been working harder to get to know Alaskan and Alaska Native issues, and beginning plans for them, than her. McCain is a non-equation for Alaska, and his running-mate won't pony up on Alaska Native issues - or much of any Alaska issues, really, except the high-profile ones.

The fourth e-mail I received was a forward from Grassroots Science. It was addressing some of the differences in the Obama and McCain approach to American Indian policies. It seemed to sum it up well:
"I think how we're going to see that an Obama administration really carries out some of the promises they were making during the campaign is through his appointments," said Laura Harris, a member of the Comanche Tribe of Oklahoma and the executive director of Americans for Indian Opportunity, based in Albuquerque...

...I've not heard or read any direct promises that McCain has made to Indians during his campaign, so there really won't be anything to hold him to if elected. So I'm wondering what's worse — to be promised and let down, or never been promised at all?"

I'm going to hold onto a promise and a plan.

Barack Obama's Principles for Stronger Tribal Communities

John McCain on Native American Policy


Isiik said...

It makes me so sad when the Elders I know steadfastly vote Republican, even though this has meant threats to their social security, lack of support for Native issues, and policies that negatively impact the poor and minorities. But I will still drive them to the voting booth if asked, even thought I know it means canceling out my vote.

Christy said...

What kind of idiots do you take us for. I am Alaskan. I know the Alaskan native people and all Alaskan people. You are not talking for them. Barak Hussein Obama does not know them nor care for them. He doesn't even know what number of state Alaska is. Go back home with your cronie reporters and investigators that crawled up here from Barack headquarters to screw with our lives. You are a bunch of numbskull idiots.

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