Jodi Rave: Clinton and Obama make Indian pledges

With Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-New York) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) on the trail in Montana, Jodi Rave of The Missoulian is covering their campaigns and the candidates' Indian platforms.

"Sens. Obama and Hillary Clinton are both courting the national Native vote, which represents 4.5 million Native people in the United States, a much-needed voting bloc in tight elections," Rave reports. "Both senators are giving keynote campaign speeches Saturday at the Montana Democratic Party dinner in Butte, where tribal leaders from all seven reservations in the state will be in attendance. About 70,000 Native people comprise nearly 7 percent of the state's population."

Both Clinton and Obama have released Indian policy statements. Both place Indian health care, respecting the government-to-government relationship and appointing Indian people in key government positions high on heir agendas.

Clinton stresses her prior experience in Indian issues, from her years in the White House with former president Bill Clinton and her seven years in the Senate. "We knew what her relationship was with tribes, basically honoring the government-to-government relationship and our stance on sovereignty," Arlan Melendez, the chairman of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony in Nevada and one of Clinton's main supporters, tells Rave.

Obama says he will usher in "dramatic" changes in federal Indian policy, ranging from monthly meetings at the White House with tribal leaders and support for legislation to restore tribal authority over non-Indians. " I want tribal leaders all across the country to feel as if they have direct access to me, that they're not going through layers of bureaucracy," Obama said in an interview with the Montana media.

Get the Story:
Obama proposes Indian senior adviser (The MIssoulian 4/5)
Clinton plans to build on track record (The Missoulian 4/5)
Obama vows to strengthen White House ties to tribes (The Missoulian 4/6)
Transcript: A sit-down with Sen. Barack Obama (The Great Falls Tribune 4/6)

Relevant Links:
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