Friday, September 19, 2008

To Clear Up the Todd Palin post

What a difference a day makes. Today, my post on Todd Palin's heritage was highlighed in a few places, including the Anchorage Daily News Newsreader. Most of you that visit here will not have read this, but for those that do, I hope you will hear this part. In the e-mail in which the Newsreader goes out, it was said I was "questioning" Todd Palin's "Nativeness," and I believe it led readers to believe I was saying Todd's level of Native blood should be questioned.

I assure you, I am not.

This is something I would never do - question how Native someone is - and I did not say it. My post was a reaction to the sheer number of people that are still asserting Sarah Palin will be open to a better Alaska Native and American Indian policy simply because she is married to an Alaska Native man.

I was the recipient today of numerous e-mails, as well as several comments, about how horrible is it that I'm "questioning how Native he is" or measuring his blood as to see if he's a "real Native." It is with a sad irony I had to stop responding with a refrain that I have argued against using blood quantum as any kind of measurement to someone's "Nativeness." In fact, there is no measure of someone's Nativeness.

I made it very clear in the post that I do not believe blood quantum is a factor in determining whether he is a "real" Native - my past posts have argued against trying to nail down how "Native" someone is. My post was pretty clear, in multiple parts, about what I was trying to clear up, and why, but especially that he does not support Native issues. People are still confused as to which tribe he belongs to, why his blood quantum would even be brought up in the first place, whether or not he is a member of a Native corporation, etc.

There are still many people, especially those who vote on Native issues, who are announcing Todd's background as a reason to believe he - or his wife - will support Native issues, causes, legislation. My post was not about questioning his heritage or "Nativeness" - and again, the post is pretty clear about how I feel when people "prove" this person is a real Native or not based on their blood quantum. A common argument, for instance:

(From Indian Country Today) ''If she and Sen. McCain are elected, it would provide a basis for a stronger Indian policy,'' said W. Ron Allen, a member of the American Indians for McCain Coalition and chairman of the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe.
''McCain has a strong background in Indian country and understands it quite well. ... and she has familial and Alaska Native insights that I think enhance the ticket's commitment to tribes.''
Palin, the first female Republican vice presidential candidate is married to Todd Palin, who is of Yup'ik Eskimo descent. Their five children are also of Alaska Native heritage.

As shown above, Sarah's proof of "committment" to Native issues has almost exclusively been that her husband is Native. It is being used, even by Native leaders, to show that the McCain/Palin ticket will have committment to tribes. What my post was about was the assertion that he is a Native leader of any kind, a champion for Native issues. He is not.

I strongly disagree with the "introduction" to my post in the e-mail sent out, and much of the commentary that went along with the post. I don't question his Nativeness, and although I tried to clear up for people why blood quantum is (unfortunately) a factor in knowing whether he is tribal member, corporate shareholder, etc., I was strong in my message that people should not use it as determination of his view. That is much of the point.

I do not know Todd, and only know what he has publicly done. It is not a personal attack to say he is not someone who supports Native issues. That is simple fact.

My point is actually highlighted by one of the comments in support of Todd left today, "I've known Todd for almost 2o years... I've never heard him discuss his ethnic identity and I've never asked him about it because I don't care and I don't think he does, either."

If, in 20 years, Todd has not even discussed his Native heritage with his friend, but his heritage is now being used as a pull for votes, a play to voters who WILL vote on Native issues, I will do my best to dispel the myth that he is a leader, spokesperson or supporter of issues so many Native people care for and fight for.

I am certainly not the only one. From "New America Media":

There was the ever so fleeting moment during her speech at the Republican National Convention when Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin paid tribute to hubby Todd. She lightly mentioned that he's of Yup'ik Eskimo background. Todd Palin beamed with pride at the acknowledgement in front of the packed convention crowd and in front one of the largest TV audiences to ever watch a candidate's convention speech. But the cheering convention participants and millions of viewers won't see the same smiles on scores of other of Palin's Yup'ik Eskimos and many other Native Alaskans.

I appreciate what ADN has done in giving the public a voice that does not ordinarily get out there. I will continue to read the ADN Newsreader. But in this case, "Writing Raven" was given a viewpoint that I do not hold. I stand by what I say and have posted. But I do believe the commentary skewed the point I was trying to make, and in fact proclaims a viewpoint that I fight against.

I welcome any and all comments, postive or negative, of those who have read what I said in its entirety. If you disagree with my assertion that Todd's heritage should not be used as "proof" he will stand up for Native issues, much less his wife, that is a valid disagreement. But if you disagree with "me" that nobody should use blood quantum or what you do every day to determine how "Native" someone is, well, I agree with you in the first place. I am not arguing at all that Todd Palin is not "Native enough," and detest the assertion as much as I detest the assertion that Obama is not "black enough," or that myself or any of my relatives are not "Native enough," or "White enough." My past postings, and the one this is centered around, will show you that.

Honestly, there are very few people that will be swayed by whether or not Todd Palin will influence Sarah Palin on Native issues. This post was geared towards those that will care, and hold Native issues dear, or those that want a fuller picture of how Palin has treated the indigenous people in her own state. For those of us that are swayed by a candidate's stand on Native issues, I only ask that you look at all the facts before deciding whether or not any of these candidates should hold enormous decision-making power over the Native people of America.


CabinDweller said...

Yeah, I thought the ADN did a disservice to your post with the title it gave it.

(If one didn't click through to read the entire post, you'd think that you were doing the whole "who is more Native thing.") But I thought you made it clear in your post that you weren't doing that.

Unknown said...

I live in California but I did live in Fairbanks for 19 years. Your Todd Palin post made perfect sense to me. Good job! Sorry the ADN did a number on you. Keep on bloggng the truth as you have been.

kodiakgriff said...

Ah, nativeness. I agree totally with your writings.
Whether or not Todd is of descent is irrelevant. Has he ever stood up for any native issues: has he ever made it clear what his tribal beliefs are those he follows? These are the questions all Native Americans should ask before they assume he, (or the Governor, will be an advocate for our interests. Let the voting and administrative decisions on record be proof of what we can expect.
If the political spin machine wants to exploit Todd's heritage
they will do so in an effort to garner votes.
I do not question his heritage, but the truth stands bare as for his support of the village. It has been, publicly, non-existent.
Too bad the ADN did not get the gist of your writing.

CelticDiva said...

I tried to make a few comments in your defense, but they didn't want to hear that.

What irritated me is that, once it was obvious that the title was stirring up the issue, the ADN should have changed it.

But they didn't. They threw you under the bus so that they could get traffic off the controversy.

That's why anytime the MSM goes to ADN as a source on any of this stuff, I cringe.

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