"As a Native woman, it is tough not to feel distrustful of and cynical toward most politicians. But on the crest of this election season, unlike any prior, I feel buoyed. I feel energized, engaged and excited. I feel something new: hope.
Yes, it's a buzzword nowadays. ''Hope'' has become synonymous with a candidate and emblematic of movement. The cynic in me wishes to dismiss it as superficially attractive yet ultimately insubstantial, but decades of experience in politics and public service won't allow me to do that. I haven't felt this hopeful in years.
It started in the primary. As Native people, we didn't have just a single good candidate; we had several great ones from which to choose. It was a profound struggle choosing a candidate to endorse, but one I welcomed. What a wonderful surprise to have too many candidates listening to us and responding to our issues.
Now, as the campaign has narrowed to a general election, my hope for the future of this country and its policies toward tribal governments and individuals only grows. I know we have an advocate in Sen. Barack Obama, who unveiled his First Americans platform while the campaign was still in its infancy and has since been meeting with tribal leaders around the country. He is humble enough to respectfully listen, and empathetic enough to fully understand the challenges facing our communities today. I believe Sen. Obama when he says he feels ''a particular sense of outrage when I see the status of so many Native Americans, and there is a sense of kinship in terms of the struggles that have to be fought.'' The other candidates simply cannot speak from the same place.
But he does more than talk the talk. Since entering the U.S. Senate, Obama supported the Indian Health Care Reauthorization Act and pushed for a billion-dollar increase in IHS funding. As a presidential candidate, he took that commitment to Indian health care further and called for full funding of IHS. In addition, one of Obama's first initiatives as a candidate was to plan for a National Indian Policy Adviser as a senior staff member in the White House."
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Wilma Mankiller: Energized and hopeful for Sen. Barack Obama
(Indian Country Today 8/22)
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