Charles Kader: The Native voter and the 2016 presidential election

Getting out the Native vote. Photo by National Congress of American Indians

Charles Kader, a member of St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, doesn't think Democrat Hillary Clinton is strong enough on Indian issues while Republican Donald Trump has been completely silent. So what's a Native voter to do?
While the Democrat National Convention was taking place, I made inquiries with the top four ranked presidential campaigns of the 2016 race on what the successful election of their party’s candidate would mean to the Native American culture and tribal voters. Beginning with the Clinton campaign, I received a response within ten minutes of communicating. I was referred to their campaign webpage without a specific area to point towards. I looked over the page to no avail. There was literally nothing there mentioning Native Americans then, and the campaign issues page still has no tab on the subject.

That was the high point of my outreach response. No other campaign even bothered to acknowledge the inquiry. That includes the Trump Republican campaign, as well as the Gary Johnson / William Weld Libertarian Party campaign, and the Dr. Jill Stein / Ajamu Baraka Green Party campaign.

I was not surprised that the Trump team felt they had no “skin in the game” but the silence of the 3rd and 4th ranked candidates showed how little regard there is for the Native American voters, let alone the Native silent majority. To Stein’s credit, she made an appearance at the Standing Rock Dakota Access pipeline protest camps after the DNC concluded, where she has been criminally charged. Her 2012 presidential campaign also had Indian Country connections.

As far as the status quo, President Barack Obama has been honored with bestowed gift blankets and a tribal language name during his presidency. Yet as a Native people we continue to get political lip service without accompanying action from his White House on redressing long-standing land claim issues among a litany of inequities that deserve Executive branch attention. In my opinion, Mr. Obama’s final tribal outreach amidst the current North Dakota protests resulted in a symbolic pat on the head and some sympathetic words that neither ensure clean water nor give hope to our youngest generations for the future. Yes there was an admission of trustee role failure, however, these failures still continue.

Read More:
Charles Kader: Presidential Race Leaves Few Choices for Native Voters (Indian Country Today 10/14)

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