"Bolivia’s President Evo Morales came to Washington, D.C. the week before Thanksgiving seeking a meeting of minds – using public forums and whatever media would take an interest – to reach the American people and President-Elect Obama.
The 48-year-old Aymara Indian leads the poorest country in South America. Yet he is heralded by indigenous peoples in the southern half of the hemisphere as the first wholly indigenous national leader of Bolivia.
For the indigenous majority of Bolivia, the election of this president was every bit as groundbreaking as Barack Obama’s election is for African Americans. This comparison was one that Morales reiterated at every opportunity during his recent visit.
But there the comparisons with the Harvard Law School-educated former senator from Illinois run thin. Americans of all races celebrated Obama’s election. But in Bolivia, a still segregated country where until recently indigenous people were not allowed to walk on certain sidewalks, the challenges facing its indigenous president are stark.
Still, Morales deserves the attention of North American Indian leaders because he often talks about values that indigenous peoples share. For one example, he routinely mentions Mother Earth by name as a consideration in world politics – everywhere from the United Nations General Assembly to the “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”"
Get the Story:
Kara Briggs: Bolivia’s president for change
(Indian Country Today 12/3)
Kara Briggs: Apologies to indigenous peoples
(11/24) Kara Briggs: Storytellers for Thanksgiving