Republican Donald Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton? Who will be more supportive of tribal self-governance and Indian rights?

Clinton or Trump? Who Should Natives Support

Duane Champagne

As an American Indian citizen, who should one vote for: Clinton or Trump? Political parties in the United States reflect differing values about current and future U.S. well being. Both parties hold up the tradition of a democratic and market based U.S. state and society in somewhat different ways.

At its best America is about equal economic opportunity, human rights, civil rights, freedom of speech, gender rights, and freedom of religion. The fundamental values of the United States are based on a history of immigrants who have come to a new world to enjoy the advantages of market economy, individual accumulation, and equal rights. The mythology and vision of the United States focuses on amalgamating culturally different groups of immigrants and turning them into American citizens with American values and goals. Recently there has been more accommodation to differences in culture, race, and ethnicity.

The political parties and candidates have differing support groups and differing ways to achieve the goals of integration and participation into the fruits of American society. The Democrats resemble a city machine, and address their transfer payments and programs toward the working class and poorer ethnic and racial groups. The general Democrat position fosters class inclusion by working to level the playing field in ways that offer class and inter-generational upward mobility.

For Hillary Clinton, addressing Indian issues is to a large extent relying on programs and funding, while providing little leadership direction other than escape from poverty and class advancement. Republicans ultimately believe in the Protestant Ethic and the ability of the market to sort out the distribution of wealth to those who work hard to earn their income. In many ways, Donald Trump’s few statements addressing American Indian issues suggests he understands Indians as a group of people with few financial resources who should adopt American economic values so they will do better as competitors within the market place.

Many American Indians are both members of a tribe and also citizens of the United States. The civil rights movement for American Indians was the Termination policy of the 1950s, and resulted in the anti-termination movements of the 1960s and 1970s. American Indians tend to be agreeable to U.S. citizenship, but not at the price of forfeiting their traditions of tribal self-government, land, and preserving their cultures. Since the Indian Self-Determination and Education Act of 1975, there have been few new statements about American Indian policy. While lip service is paid to the government-to-government relations of self-determination policy, policy action has not gone far enough beyond the sub-contracting of select federal programs.

American Indians do not want to assimilate wholly into American culture, but rather want to be U.S. citizens who retain their indigenous rights to land, self-government and culture. In this regard, Clinton at least is aware and supportive of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). It is not clear whether Donald Trump has any knowledge of UNDRIP, let alone has he given any support to any of the ideas presented in UNDRIP.

Between the two parties, Clinton seems the most agreeable candidate to help Indian country move in a positive direction. Nevertheless, the parties and candidates do not provide an explicit policy vision for tribal communities that prioritizes, acknowledges and builds tribal governments, economies, rights and powers in ways that enable American Indian people to control their own futures, and make their own decisions about engaging in markets, intergovernmental relations, and maintaining culture. Presidential and federal elections are the times for setting out new and better policies. Creating Indian policy that will empower governments and communities and foster indigenous market solutions to work and capital formation are not well addressed by either party or most Congressional candidates. Hillary Clinton and the democrats are the party of choice for the moment, but they still have a lot of work to do to address economic and self-governance issues in Indian country.

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TRUE native ppls. (both

tmsyr11's picture
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
TRUE native ppls. (both registered, enrolled, reservation members) know FIRST-HAND the disadvantages of living under Tribal Govt rule and authority. Washington has no control nor authority over leg Tribal Govts that supposedly represent enrolled Tribal members. It does not matter who is elected because ultimately the tribal residents are the beneficiaries of effort of Tribal Government rule. >>>>>>>>>>>>> After 10-12 years of Democratic & Republican influence, control, and executive leadership, US Federal Government Debt is $10 TRILL more than in 2008 (was $ 10 TRILLION). Democrats complained again and again in 2000-2004 of the Federal Deficit (less than $10 TRILLION) and impact on children Senator Barack Obama railed George W. Bush again and again of having a Federal Deficit that is "un-American". Yet, a $20 TRILLION dollar federal deficit under Barack Obama doesn't seem to warrant any criticism from interest groups, i.e. nor the TV media! >>>>>>>>>>>>> Its quite obvious who the interest-Natives groups will say to support, but ultimately for enrolled, tribal residents who live on the poorest reservations, does it really matter? With rampant corruption and criminal organized Tribal Govts, should the interest-Natives groups be helping and socially media-sizing the exploits by tribally-operated Govts?

Native Americans want to not

turbojesus's picture
Submitted by turbojesus on
Native Americans want to not live in poverty and squalor. Oh Hillary and democrats are doing more for native americans. Uh where's my check for the last eight years? I seemed to be missing my disbursement; oh wait it's at walstreet. I seriously doubt the natives living on the reservation are concerned about UNDRIP either. Oh yeah I'm just an unemployed orphan living without running water and electricity with diabetes and have to take pain killers just to go to work. My only concern being survival. Huh I wonder which candidate will support our government to government rights and the preservation of our culture?

Gary Johnson for me.

Reginald Alan Whitcomb Jr.
Reginald Alan W...
Submitted by Reginald Alan W... on
Gary Johnson for me.

Personally, I don't like

Alamosaurus's picture
Submitted by Alamosaurus on
Personally, I don't like either of the two candidates, but Clinton is the lesser of two evils. Clinton is a blunderer (Bengazi, the emails), but Trump is an out and out racist and sexist bigot who engages in personal attacks on people. There are five other parties running candidates; Green, Peace and Freedom (both progressives--I wish they would merge; then we might have a viable alternative third party); Libertarian--basically anarchists who want to abolish all government as they think people can learn to live together in voluntary cooperation (they can't at least right now), and two extreme right wing, openly racist parties: the American Independent Party which wants to go back to de jure segregation and Jim Crow, and the even more extreme American Freedom Party (formerly the American Third Position Party) whose founder, using the false name of Daniel O. Pace, proposed a constitutional amendment that would strip all people not of at least 7/8 European descent of their citizenship, and expel all of them except possibly Native Americans--they are split on this issue--from the United States.