Elections 2012: Bipartisan at NCAI, VAWA and the Candidate, and Airbrushing History Since 1776

Elections 2012: Bipartisan at NCAI, VAWA and the Candidate, and Airbrushing History Since 1776

Mark Trahant
10/23/12

American Indian and Alaska Native affairs are bipartisan issues. At the National Congress of American Indians meeting in Sacramento this week representatives from both the Obama campaign and the Romney campaigned talked to delegates about their view of the next four years.

“We have to be united on our priorities in order to protect the Indian country budget. The stakes are very high,” said Jackie Johnson Pata in a tweet from NCAI.

Katherine Archuletta, political director for Obama for America, as well as California State Sen. Mark Wyland for Team Romney.

In a news conference Monday, Pata said NCAI is always working “both parties” on Native issues to protect good access no matter which party controls Congress or the White House.

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Attorney Ryan Dreveskracht of the Seattle's Galanda law firm, is drawing attention from Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna.

Dreveskracht wrote about the Violence Against Women Act that the state’s attorney general, McKenna, “is at least addressing the issue with some thought, which is much more than can be said of his fellow GOPers, fines and civil restraining orders are not adequate responses to reservation murder, rape, and sexual assault. McKenna’s gubernatorial opponent, Congressman Jay Inslee (D-WA), on the other hand, actually introduced the Stand Against Violence and Empower Native Women Act ... this March.”

Not so fast, McKenna’s team responded, McKenna’s position “is a great deal more detailed than your piece gives him credit for. I do appreciate the fact that you give him some credit for working to prevent violence against Native women. Preventing DV and sexual assault against all women has been a priority for Rob McKenna predating his time as AG and has been a personal passion of his as a long-time supporter of the Eastside Domestic Violence Coalition.”

However Dreveskracht concluded in his blog, “McKenna does not support limited tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian domestic abusers. It is not a ‘priority’ for him; at least not an ‘immediate’ one. Right now, he instead supports the status quo, which has failed tribal communities and Indian women. While he deserves credit for going further on this issue than most Republicans will – meaning at least admitting there is a violence against Indian women problem in Indian country – McKenna is playing it far too safe for fear of offending his GOP base as he vies for the Washington Governor’s Mansion. Congress, namely the House GOP, has no intention of genuinely debating the Senate’s VAWA reauthorization bill to passage, and he knows it.”

The piece is titled, “Rob McKenna: Tribal Friend or Foe?”

Speaking of friends, last week a Navajo and Zuni student at Fort Lewis College in Colorado had the honor of introducing First Lady Michelle Obama at a public event.

The Navajo Times reported that Fort Lewis College Student body President Byron J. Tsabetsaye introduced the First Lady to an enthusiastic audience of about 3,500 at the college's Whalen Gym.

“I wasn't always into politics growing up," Tsabetsaye was quoted by the Navajo Times. “I didn't know there was a possibility for me as a kid to hold elected office ... or even be in a leadership role. All that changed in 2008” with the election of Obama.

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Indian country’s social networks were interested in Monday’s debate even when the subject was international affairs. (Of course tribes have a natural link, representing the first diplomatic encounter for the United States in its infancy.)

Some 211,000 Twitter accounts were reached by the Indian Country Today Media Network’s live session. This is a new way for Indian country to connect with people from across the globe in real time. Comments were smart and worth consideration by a larger audience.

A sample of some really great comments here via Storify.

Two of my favorites:

@Aura Bogado writes: Let's talk about the actual longest war: The American Indian Wars, 1622–1924.

And, @Hayden_King: America: airbrushing history since 1776.

Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. He has been writing about Indian Country for more than three decades. His e-mail is: marktrahant@thecedarsgroup.org.

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