Opinion: Questions for presidential candidates

"As I type this, the new prime minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, has just publicly apologized for 200 years of racism and brutality by the Australian government against the Aborigines, a policy virtually identical to that of the United States against American Indians. That got me to thinking: Do any of the current leading presidential candidates have the guts to do the same on live national television?

Even Bill Clinton, who made something of an industry out of presidential apologies and even apologized for the U.S. overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, could not find time for the Indians. Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, a former presidential hopeful, has introduced a proposed apology, but that’s as close as it gets.

Of the remaining four main candidates (Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee, John McCain and Barack Obama), only Obama even mentions Indians (or as he poetically puts it “First Americans”) on his campaign Web site. The omission is particularly glaring in McCain’s case, since Arizona has a very large Indian population, and the senator frequently supported tribes while serving on the Indian Affairs Committee.

Only Obama has offered a proposed policy on Indian issues, though like most campaign promises it’s long on florid generalities and short on the nitty-gritty details. When the group INDN’s List organized “Prez on the Rez,” a debate for Democratic presidential candidates hosted by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, only Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson and Mike Gravel (the latter two from New Mexico and Alaska, respectively, states with large Native populations) could be bothered to attend.

So, with that in mind, I have some questions for the candidates."

Get the Story:
Patrick G. Barkman: I'm still waiting for an apology (The Cleburn Times 2/18)

Relevant Links:
Barack Obama - http://www.barackobama.com
Hillary Clinton - http://www.hillaryclinton.com
John McCain - http://www.johnmccain.com

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