Steve Russell: Indian fighters in the annals of American politics

"If Indians should vote in elections called by the colonial state, the question becomes for whom? It is axiomatic that we vote our interests, but which of many interests?

I maintain that we should reserve voting as Indians to helping allies or hurting the proud heirs of George A. Custer. When the Washington tribes took up the ballot against Slade Gorton (R), they removed an Indian fighter so rabid that the rest of Indian country owes them a debt of gratitude. Gorton’s career is a case study for those who maintain Indians should never vote.

Since the shooting part of the Indian Wars ended, we have not seen professional Indian fighters cruising into office on a wave of fear and hatred. No William Henry Harrison, who came to power over Tecumseh’s bones. No Andy Jackson, who championed the Final Solution, American style: Indian Territory as a concentration camp.

Gorton aside, modern Indian fighters do not run on Indian fighting. Sarah Palin, in spite of her husband’s indigenous roots, was no friend of Alaska natives. On the campaign trail, George W. Bush made statements about state supremacy over Indian governments chilling in their ignorance of constitutional and political history."

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