New Group To Bolster Native Clout In Politics
INDN’s List plans to groom Democratic Indian leaders for political office beginning with the state level.
Free’s efforts follow aggressive voter registration drives by Democrats on Indian reservations during last year’s presidential election. The economic boom fueled by Indian gaming in recent years also has increased the political profile of some tribes which now have the means to hiure lobbyists to influence the political process at the national and local level.
Democrats are trying to capitalize on a current political scandal involving Jack Abramoff and his partner Michael Scanlon who are accused of defrauding Indian tribes of some $82 million.
“Indian country has pumped millions of dollars on both sides of the political fence, and what do we get. Free said during a gathering of Indian leaders in Tulsa. “We get Jack Abramoff and scandal.”
On July 14-16 Free was the speaker at a campaign camp in Prior Lake, Minnesota which drew more about 150 Native women to an intensive three-day conference which was hosted by WEWIN – Women Empowering Women for Indian Nations.
Mary Ann Andreas, vice chairwoman of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians in Southern California said she could have ahd a better shot at winning a seat in the California State Assembly last year had NDN’s List been around to help her.
Andreas’s newly acquired political skills could help other American Indians who are thinking of running for office. One major lesson she learned – You may not win the first time, “But, you get your name out,” she said. “I didn’t win but I got almost 50,000 people to vote for me as opposed to the 200 when I ran for Tribal Council.” (I think the Republican candidate Bonnie Garcia from Imperial County won the seat. In fact, I remember seeing Andreas in her TV commercials.)
When Irene Folstrom of the Leech Lake Ojibwe Reservation in Minnesota decided to run for a seat, currently held by a Republican, she knew she could count on INDN’s List . The group has given her political advice, helped her put together a fundraising plan and network with people in the Democratic Party.
“I saw that tribal issues were not being adequately addressed at the state level in Minnesota. The obvious reason to me is that we didn’t have any representation at the state level”
Critics of the group say it does American Indians a disservice by focusing solely on boosting Democratic candidates. Gary Jones, chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, said “Not all Indians are Democrats (Only the poor ones, Gary). Kalyn tends to be ultraliberal on the issues and it is not in line with what a large number of Native Americans in Oklahoma believe.”
Free dismisses the criticism saying the Republican Party has not done a good job representing American Indians.
Gus Frank, chairman of the Potawatomi Tribe on Wisconsin agrees with Free. His tribe recently gave the new group $25,000.
“As a Native American, the party that has shown us more respect is probably the Democrats. If we’re going to promote our interests, we need to support those who support our interests.”
Indigenous Democratic Network’s list has raised about $200,000 since it was established earlier this year. Free hopes to raise $1 million for the political races in 2006.
For more information on the Indigenous Democratic Network’s List contact them at: _NDN’s List, 406 South Boulder, Mezzanine Ste 200, Tulsa, OK 74103; Phone – (918)583-6100; Fax – (918) 513-6104; http://www.indnslist.org/; or e-mail - email@example.com.
This column has been edited for length and comment from a Gannett News Service article bylined Diana Marrero which appeared in the November 25th edition of The Arizona Republic; an Internet Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Press Release; and NDN’s List Network site.
Demo Bash In Phoenix
Thursday, December 1st
The Lucky Break - 2nd Street and Jefferson
(Only 2 1/2 blocks from the Wyndham)
8:00pm - 12:00am
Join many well known activists, politicos and elected officials for a night of relaxing, mingling, great live music, dancing, pool, eating and drinking.
Entertainment: Raza and Tim Reynolds
Speakers include: Rep. Raul Grijalva and Rep. Diane Watson
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (877) 368-9221
There will be a $5 cover which will be waived for PDA donors. $100 V.I.P. Room Access.
You can purchase tickets online: https://www.pdamerica.org/dnc-tickets.php
Phil Johnson, Chair MA Democratic State Chair
Terry Lierman,Chair MD Democratic Party
Harry Mitchell, AZ Democratic Party Chair
Mimi Kennedy, PDA Advisory Board Chair
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Rep. Dianne Watson (D-CA)
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
Alfredo Gutierrez, Fmr. AZ Senator
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, AZ State House, LD15
Rep. Ted Downing, AZ State House
Rep. Ben Miranda, AZ State House
Cindy Sheehan, Gold Star Families for Peace
Tom Hayden, Former California State Assembly
Janice Brunson, NationalCommittee Woman
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