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Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr. and More Than 100 Tribal Leaders Endorse Barack Obama

Chicago, IL  –  Today, the Obama campaign announced that Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr., and more than 100 Tribal Leaders have endorsed Barack Obama for President.  These endorsements come from tribes across the political spectrum and from all corners of the country.  The Navajo Nation is the largest North American Indian Tribe, comprised of approximately 300,000 members located around Southeastern Utah, Northeastern Arizona and Northwestern New Mexico.
Senator Obama said, “I am honored to have the support of President Shirley and so many of our tribal leaders.  Their commitment to public service is something that every American should be proud of.  Indian tribes in our country face a special set of challenges – from issues of sovereignty to access to affordable healthcare.  I look forward to working with Joe and all of our Tribal Leaders to ensure that we meet these challenges in an Obama-Biden administration.”
“For eight years, we have lived with Federal policies that erode our culture and language and, therefore, attack our very identity as Native people,” said President Shirley.  “It is time for change: a real change!  It is time for the United States of America to truly honor its obligations to its Native peoples.  Senator Obama understands the uniqueness of Native nations and Native peoples – that is why I support Barack Obama to be the next president of the United States.”
In addition to the individual tribal leaders, Senator Obama has received the endorsement of at least seven tribal councils, including the Crow, Rocky Boy and Fort Peck nations and the All Indian Pueblo Council.  He has also been endorsed by the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association.  Earlier this year, Senator Obama became an honorary member of the Crow Nation.
Tribal leaders that have endorsed Senator Obama are:
·        Chief J. Allan, Chairman, Coeur d’Alene Tribe
·        Dave Archambault, Jr., Councilman, StandingRock Sioux Tribe
·        Floyd Azure, Tribal Executive Board, Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Ft. Peck Reservation
·        Dorothy Barber-Redhorse, Vice-President, Sanostee Chapter, Navajo Nation
·        David Z. Bean, Councilman, Puyallup Tribe of Indians
·        Harriett Becenti, Council Delegate, Navajo Nation
·        Lorenzo Bedonie, Council Delegate representing Hardrock/ Pinon Chapters (Arizona), Navajo Nation
·        Elmer Begay, Council Delegate, Navajo Nation
·        Garrett Big Leggins, Vice- Chairman, Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Ft. Peck Reservation
·        Richard Bird, Jr., Councilman, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
·        Cedric Black Eagle, Vice-Chairman, Crow Nation
·        Rodney Bordeaux, President, Rosebud Sioux Tribe
·        William “Shorty” Brewer, Vice-President Oglala Sioux Tribe
·        Theresa Bridges, Chairwoman, Franks’ Landing Indian Community
·        Joe Brings Plenty, Chairman, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
·        Donna Buckles-Whitmer, Tribal Executive Board, Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Ft. Peck       Reservation
·        Diana Buckner, Chairwoman, Ely Shoshone Tribe
·        Ronald Charles, Chair, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe
·        Abe Chopper, Tribal Executive Board, Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Ft. Peck Reservation
·        Thomas Christian, Tribal Executive Board, Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Ft. Peck Reservation
·        M. Brian Cladoosby, Chairman, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community
·        Robert Cournoyer, Chairman Yankton Sioux Tribe
·        Gene Culbertson, Tribal Executive Board, Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Ft. Peck Reservation
·        Gerald L. Danforth, Former Chairman, Oneida Nation of Wisconsin
·        Herman Dillon Sr., Chairman Puyallup Tribe of Indians
·        Ron Duke, Tribal Council Representative, Oglala Sioux Tribe
·        Peter Dupree, Tribal Executive Board, Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Ft. Peck Reservation
·        Andy Ebona, Councilman Douglas Village, Tlingit Tribe, Alaska
·        Ian Erlich (Native Village of Kotzebue) – Vice Chairman, Alaska Inter-Tribal Council
·        Ingrid Firemoon, Tribal Executive Board, Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Ft. Peck Reservation
·        Leonard Forsman, Chairman Suquamish Tribe
·        Jerry Freddie, Council Delegate, Navajo Nation
·        Marlin Fryberg Jr., Secretary, Tulalip Tribes of Washington
·        Margaret Gates, Councilwoman Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
·        Shawna Gavin, Secretary, General Council of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
·        Alison Gottfriedson, Councilmember, Franks’ Landing Indian Community
·        Arlyn Headdress, Tribal Executive Board, Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Ft. Peck Reservation
·        Ron His Horse Is Thunder, Chairman, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
·        Wesley “Chuck” Jacobs, Tribal Council Representative, Oglala Sioux Tribe
·        Michael Jandreau, Chair, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe
·        Michael R. Johnson, Chair, General Council of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
·        Richard Kirn, Tribal Executive Board, Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Ft. Peck Reservation
·        Ronald “Smiley” Kittsen, Councilman, Blackfeet Nation
·        Shelly Luger, Vice Chairwoman, Spirit Lake Tribe
·        Cynthia Lyall, Chairwoman, Nisqually Indian Tribe
·        Michael Marchand, Former Chairman, Conf. Tribes of the Colville Reservation
·        Robert McGhee, Councilman, Poarch Band of Creek Indians
·        Jesse McLaughlin, Councilman, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
·        Joseph McNeil, Jr., Councilman, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
·        Christopher Mercier, Councilman and former Chairman, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde
·        Kenneth Meshigaud, Tribal Chairperson, Hannahville Potawatomi
·        James V. Miles, Councilman Puyallup Tribe of Indians
·        Elmer L. Milford, Council Delegate representing Ft. Defiance Chapter (Arizona), Navajo Nation
·        John Miller, Chairman, Pokagon Band of Pottawatomi
·        Antone Minthorn, Chair, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
·        Armand Minthorn, Council Member, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
·        Jeff Mitchell, Council Member, Klamath Tribes
·        Robert Moore, Councilman, Rosebud Sioux
·        Wayne A. Newell, Passamaquoddy Indian Township Tribal Council Member, Passamaquoddy Tribe
·        Ned Norris, Chairman, Tohono O’odham Nation
·        Benjamin H. Nuvamsa, Chairman, Hopi Tribe
·        Darrin Old Coyote, Vice-Secretary, Crow Nation
·        Stuart Paisano, Governor, Pueblo of Sandia
·        Brian Pearson, Secretary-Treasurer, Spirit Lake Tribe
·        Myra Pearson, Chairperson, Spirit Lake Tribe
·        Louis Peterson, Tribal Executive Board, Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Ft. Peck Reservation
·        Rick Phillips-Doyle, Sakom/Chief, Passamaquoddy Tribe, Pleasant Point Reservation
·        Matthew Pilcher, Chairman, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska
·        Jennifer Porter, Chair, Kootenai Tribe of Idaho
·        Gloria Ramirez, Councilwoman, Tohono O’odham Nation
·        Darryl Red Eagle, Tribal Executive Board, Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Ft. Peck Reservation
·        Kenny Reels, Vice-Chair, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation
·        Sarah Riggs, Vice-Chair, Dilkon Chapter, Navajo Nation
·        George Rivera, Governor, Pueblo of Pojoaque
·        Bobby Robbins, Council Delegate representing Naneez dizi/ Coalmine Canyon Chapters (Arizona), Navajo Nation
·        Andrew Roybal, Tribal Council Member Piro/Manso/Tiwa Indian Tribe, Pueblo of San Juan de Guadalupe
·        Scott Russell, Secretary, Crow Nation
·        Brandon Sazue Sr., Chairman, Crow Creek Sioux Tribe
·        Richard Sebastian, Tribal Councilor, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation
·        Michael Selvage, Chairman, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribe
·        Melvin Sheldon Jr., Chairman, Tulalip Tribes of Washington
·        Wink Soderberg, Council Member, Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde
·        A.T. Stafne, Chairman, Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Ft. Peck Reservation
·        James H. Steele Jr., Chairman, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation
·        J.D. Stone, Speaker of the House, Crow Nation
·        Aurolyn Stwyer, Vice-Chair, Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs
·        Ron Suppah, Chair, Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs
·        Michael Thomas, Chairman, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation
·        Larry Townsned, Tribal Veteran Service Officer, Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina
·        Leonard Tsosie, Council Delegate, Navajo Nation
·        Lee Juan Tyler, Vice-Chairman, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes
·        Carl Venne, Chairman, Crow Nation
·        William Walksalong, Former President and Tribal Council member, Northern Cheyenne Tribe 
·        John Warren, Councilman, Pokagon Band of Pottawatomi
·        John Weeks, Sergeant at Arms, Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Ft. Peck Reservation
·        Marcus Wells, Jr., Chairman, Three Affiliated Tribes
·        Bill Whitehead, Tribal Executive Board, Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Ft. Peck Reservation
·        Mike Williams, Tribal Council Member for the Akiak Native Community
·        Jonathan Windy Boy, Business Committee Member, Chippewa Cree of the Rocky Boy Reservation
·        Mervin Wright, Jr. Chairman, Pyramid Lake Paiute
·        John Yellowbird Steele, President Oglala Sioux Tribe
·        Marie Zackuse, Vice Chairwoman, Tulalip Tribes of Washington
*Note: Titles are for identification purposes only.

McCain-Palin? No, thank you!

FIRST AMERICANS TAKE A PASS ON THE MCCAIN- PALIN TICKET; TRIBAL LEADERS RESPOND TO ABRAMOFF CRONY FUNDRAISING FOR MCCAIN
Reed Fundraiser Today Follows Pattern of McCain Putting the Special Interests Ahead of the Native American Community
Chicago, IL– Today, leaders in tribal communities responded to Senator John McCain’s decision to accept fundraising help from Jack Abramoff crony Ralph Reed.  Later today, Ralph Reed, who has close ties to corrupt Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, is scheduled to host a fundraiser for Senator John McCain in Atlanta, GA.  Reed, on behalf of a firm, received more than $5 million from Abramoff, now serving a six-year prison term for his corrupt activities defrauding Indian tribes and others.  
“John McCain’s decision to cozy up to one of the central figures in the Republican culture of corruption shows how far he is willing to go to win,” said Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean. “Despite all of his rhetoric about reform, McCain’s willingness to accept money raised by tainted Abramoff cronies like Ralph Reed shows that McCain simply cannot be trusted to bring change to Washington politics.”
Many in the Native American community expressed dismay at McCain’s decision to work closely with Reed as well.  “I’m not sure how he justifies this in his own mind.  After all, McCain more than most understands that Reed profited and supported Abramoff’s defrauding activities which devastated numerous tribes – devastation that they are still reeling from. I think for a lot of Native people, this will send a loud and clear message that Senator McCain is not on our side,” said Suzan Harjo, President of the Morning Star Institute and former Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians. 
Jonathan Windy Boy of the Chippewa-Cree Tribe of Rocky Boy Reservation in Montana said, “I think a lot of people in Indian Country, with increased frequency over the last couple of years have asked ‘who is this John McCain?’  It’s not the same guy we thought we knew.  Abramoff hurt all of Indian Country and because of the scandal, we were often locked out of the political process since. It doesn’t make sense to me that you can claim to be for tribes and associate yourself with those who defrauded us.”  
“It is profoundly disturbing and it adds insult to injury that McCain has refused to accept tribal contributions but has actively sought out contributions from those who lobby on behalf of tribes,” added Wizi Garriott, Obama campaign First Americans Director.  “Senator McCain has it 100% backwards.  The Abramoff scandal happened with the willing participation of men like Ralph Reed, and tribes were the victims.  Yet he locks out tribes from supporting him and at the same time actively seeks the support of Washington lobbyist and men like Reed.  Senator Obama doesn’t take a dime from Washington lobbyists.  This just further shows that the Obama campaign is about people at the grassroots – not the special interests.”
Garriott added:  “Senator Obama has a comprehensive plan to strengthen our tribal communities and make this campaign about bringing all people into the process.  Senator Obama understands that when we reject the old politics of lobbyist money and special interests running the show, we can bring positive change and break the cycle of partisan ideology.  American Indians are painfully aware of the need for change. Tribes have experienced firsthand the lack of progress under prior administrations, but together we can bring the kind of change we need in our tribal communities and across the country.”
See more about Obama’s Tribal Communities plan here: http://tribes.barackobama.com/page/content/firstamshome

The candidate I support is:
 
–The candidate who has been endorsed by both Principal Chief Chad Smith and Former Chief Wilma Mankiller.

–The only candidate whose campaign includes Native American advisers; specifically a Native American Outreach Coordinator and a 30-member Tribal Steering Committee comprised of tribal leaders from across the nation.
–The only candidate who has plans to include a Native American as part of the Presidential cabinet.
–The only candidate whose website has direct and obvious links to information and specific plans for the Native American community.
–The only candidate who consistently makes reference to and speaks directly to Native Americans during campaign speeches.
–The only candidate whose campaign with literature specifically for the Native American community.
–The only candidate whose autobiography expresses concern for the Native American community and tribal sovereignty.
–The candidate who met with leaders of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation in the infancy of his campaign, to listen to their concerns and discuss improvements to the community going forward.
–The candidate who is an original co-sponsor of specific amendments to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, and who called for passage of the act that has been stalled in congress for 14-years.

I support Barack Obama.

King: Race, Affiliation, and Sovereignty ’08

King: Race, affiliation and sovereignty ’08       
Posted: June 24, 2008
by: Keegan King
Race has been and will continue to be an issue in this year’s national elections. But now it seems that tribal affiliation can be added to the list of candidate policy positions. It was recently reported that Sen. Barack Obama attempted to clarify his position on the rights and affiliation of Cherokee freedmen. Freedmen, the descendants of mixed Indian and freed African people, have filed an injunction to prohibit the Cherokee tribe from ousting them from tribal rolls.Sen. Obama made it clear that in the dispute between the Cherokee Nation and Cherokee freedmen, he supports the tribe’s right to determine tribal affiliation. He also said that he did not agree with the decision, but ”tribal sovereignty must mean that the place to resolve intertribal disputes is the tribe itself.” This is just the latest iteration of a storied battle for tribal self-determination within the Cherokee Nation. The conflict resulted from the Congressional Black Caucus attempting to get presumptive Democratic nominee Obama to support their efforts to prohibit the Cherokee Nation from disenrolling freedmen by withholding treaty obligations.

House Bill 2824, a bill that seeks to ”sever United States’ government relations with the Cherokee Nation” until full tribal citizenship is restored to Cherokee freedmen, was introduced in 2007. Supported by 35 members of the CBC, H.R. 2824 was a reaction to Cherokee freedmen’s appeals to U.S. lawmakers to weigh in on their removal from the Cherokee tribal roll. This new conflict over tribal sovereignty and what it means to be part of a tribe finds its roots in the relocation and allotment policies of the 19th century.

During the mid-1800s, the Cherokee people were forcibly removed from their homelands in the Southeastern U.S. in what is known as the Trail of Tears. Their expulsion to reservation territory in Oklahoma was a policy implemented to make land available in the East for European settlers. During the removal, the Civil War was raging and several tribes had sided with either Confederate or Union forces. New treaties were forged between the U.S. government and newly relocated tribes during Reconstruction. And tribes that had kept African slaves up until then were forced to free them. With the freeing of slaves, who had been deeply involved in the culture of traditional Cherokee life and who spoke the language, there were many marital unions formed between Cherokees and blacks.

As it had been for hundreds of years, the Cherokee accepted these new in-laws and children of mixed heritage as full members of the tribe regardless of the foreign concept of ”race.” Formalized through treaty documents, the self-determination of tribes in matters of enrollment were left to the tribal governments. During this time, Cherokee ”freedmen” became prominent business owners and leaders within the tribe. The age-old system of adoption and cultural inclusion was successful and functioned as it always had.

But as Indian policy morphed from removal to assimilation, the U.S. government introduced a new paradigm – blood quantum. Quantum was an attempt to influence tribal self-determination. By and large, the tribes had been fairly homogeneous; and in cases like that of the freedmen, the Cherokee Nation had accepted outsiders that had already been initiated into tribal culture. But by introducing this new concept of race, a system based solely upon ancestry, the U.S. government had devised a way to whittle down the tribes and their subsequent obligations to them over time.

Faced with what appeared to be an arbitrary requirement, the tribes adopted blood quantum requirements. And at the time, many tribes required that individuals have one-quarter or one-half ”Indian blood” to be a tribal member. In this way, the criteria for tribal enrollment came to be based solely on ancestry.

The fallacy of blood quantum has had tremendous repercussions over the last century. In many ways, it has divided tribes and created a class system where a person’s degree of ”Indian blood” is what determines their status in a community. Before quantum, tribal members were accepted based on their willingness to sacrifice for and support the tribe and leaders were chosen because of their values and character rather than racial purity.

Due in no small part to the assimilation policy of blood quantum, the Cherokee Nation first started discussing whether Cherokee freedmen should have rights as citizens in the early 1980s. The combination of a forced paradigm shift, off-reservation populations that weren’t as connected to the cultural aspect of the tribe, and a century of racist federal policy targeting blacks and dwindling resources culminated in the 1990s with the first real attempts to oust Cherokee freedmen from the rolls. And in 2007, the Cherokee Nation, through an election fraught with voter disenfranchisement, passed a referendum that prohibited Cherokees designated as freedmen from being enrolled members.

The CBC and other lawmakers have attempted to make the case that this is a treaty issue and not one of sovereignty. They believe that because freedmen were ”granted” the same rights as Cherokees in treaty documents, this should carry through to their descendants today. I find it humorous that the same government that has implemented these policies is now trying to find fault with them.

I agree with Sen. Obama in that the Cherokee freedmen should continue to be recognized by the tribe but that the decision should come from the Cherokee Nation. He put it this way: ”Our nation has learned with tragic results that federal intervention in internal matters of Indian tribes is rarely productive – failed policies such as allotment and termination grew out of efforts to second-guess Native communities. That is not a legacy we want to continue.”

As our world becomes smaller, tribal nations will find that we have tribal members with African, European, American and even Asian descent. Tribal sovereignty must be respected and, as Sen. Obama has said, the tribes must not be interfered with in their process of determining membership. But the termination policies of the past, including blood quantum, must be abolished or they will continue to divide and conquer our communities, family by family.

It is time for us to make a change. It is time to for our tribal nations to evolve, back.

Keegan King, Acoma Pueblo, is the director of New Mexico Youth Organized, an organization that gets young people involved in politics in the state. He can be reached at keegank@gmail.com.