Elections Are Fast Approaching

Elections are coming up.

It’s time for American Indian people to remember the living conditions that never seem to change regardless of which party is in power.

American Indian issues are non-partisan.

These living conditions will become worse as the issues of deficit reductions fall on most Indian reservations and other programs serving urban Indian people. These very programs that American Indian people have relied on to help improve the poverty and hunger in many American Indian communities are in danger as the political structure continues to fight the election campaign.

It is very hard to discuss a “fiscal cliff” in 2013-2014 when most American Indians know and will argue that we have faced that “cliff” for over two hundred years.

A recent article on the Washington Post stated: “Any agreement is likely to result in less than the $1.6 trillion in new taxes over the next decade that Obama requested in his initial offer to House Republicans, and White House aides are signaling to allies that any new money from taxes would be used almost entirely for deficit reduction – not for ambitious, new spending programs or government expansions.” And you may say that we should use the programs available to us now but the vast disparity in state diversity inclusion doesn’t allow for that, take for instance Kansas City, when you approach them on why people who are not American Indian are being made “honorary Indians” and yet openly they will tell you they are not Indian at all, the City’s response is that you don’t have to prove in any way that you are American Indian beyond joining social clubs that will allow you to claim “community recognition” if you speak to the City Council you will most likely be met with an attorney present who will tell you:

[ Your inquiry was referred to my attention as the legal advisor to the City’s Human Relations Department (“HRD”).  You believe that HRD erroneously certified non-Native Americans as minority business enterprises based on two grounds – (1) that they do not have tribal cards (or BIA cards) and (2) that the tribes they claim to be citizens of have denied them citizenship.   Chapter 38, Code of Ordinances, permits HRD to de-certify MBEs “for cause” only, and cause does not exist under the circumstances as you’ve related them.

There are 3 requirements that must be met to be certified as an MBE under Native American status:

1)      The person must have origins in any of the original peoples of North America.  There is no minimum blood quantum requirement, so as long as the person has at least one blood relative that was Native American, no matter how far back, this requirement is satisfied.

2)      The person must have historically and consistently identified himself or herself as a Native American.  This simply requires that the person show a history of holding himself or herself out to the public as being a Native American, The person does not have to be an active member of any particular tribe to meet this requirement.

3)      The person must maintain tribal affiliation or demonstrate at least one-quarter descent from the tribe.  A BIA card, while relevant, is not required, even for federally recognized tribes.  Neither is a tribal ID card.   A person might be able to demonstrate one-quarter descent without a BIA or tribal card.  And even if they cannot, they might be able to show that they maintain tribal affiliation.

You’ve alleged that a particular tribe has denied a particular MBE citizenship on the grounds that the MBE could not meet the tribe’s established minimum blood quantum requirement.  Even if that were true, citizenship is not equivalent to tribal affiliation.   It is entirely possible for one to be associated with a tribe, i.e., maintain tribal affiliation, even if they never seek, or are qualified to obtain, citizenship status.   While a person must establish their minority status to HRD’s satisfaction, the threshold is not as high as you might prefer it be set.

HRD takes its certification obligations seriously.  While we appreciate your concern, there is simply no basis to believe that cause exists to de-certify anyone at this time.]

Because the disparity is so great and the discrimination towards American Indians are so prevalent in Kansas City, American Indians need to focus on Federal programs where local dysfunction cant get a foothold on us and for President Obama to focus and live up to the promises he made at all the White House sessions he has held with tribal leaders. And, it is time for Indian people to quit fighting the political election and stop being led around by the Democrats who blame the bogey-man Republicans. It seems ironic that many Indian Democrats want Obama to live up to the standard set by President Nixon in dealing with Indian people.

There is much that President Obama should immediately do to protect the American Indian community.

During the budget negotiation last year, the President offered to reduce the Low Income Housing Energy Assistance program (LIHEAP) and the Community Services Block Grant program (CSBG) by 50 percent. As winter deepens many tribal communities rely on LIHEAP and CSBG for basic heating and low cost food. This is a basic living issue not a fiscal “cliff” issue. And Democrats should remember these programs were created under President Reagan.

The Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act is due to expire. Someone needs to ask President Obama and the national Indian organizations why a national call for support was delayed until December 2012. The bill was originally entitled “To amend the Native American Programs Act of 1974 to provide for the revitalization of Native American languages through Native American language immersion programs; and for other purposes.” It was introduced by Representative Heather Wilson, a Republican from New Mexico.

President Obama needs to restate his promise to many Tribal leaders that he will oppose the Keystone project unless it is designed to not negatively impact tribal lands and Indian communities.

President Obama needs to introduce a “Carcieri” fix legislative bill. This case was decided in 2009 and it is not reasonable that President Obama hasn’t introduced a bill in over four years. So many Democrats have fixed the blame on the bogey-man Republicans but even the Democrats have to admit that one of the strongest opponents of a “Carcieri fix” is Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein. And, why hasn’t Obama spoken out against the Supreme Court for ruling that tribes wanting to reclaim land had to be recognized in 1934? Obama should know and his American Indian aides should know that all tribes were under the federal government’s jurisdiction long before 1934. Some may not have been federally recognized but all tribes were under the jurisdiction of the US government by 1934.

There are so many other issues that need to be addressed instead of continuing to try to win the election and continue the Democrats versus Republicans debate.

I have tried to provide examples of friends from both Democrats and Republicans. But most Indians know that neither party seems to be able to find a reservation or the American Indian community except in election years.

American Indian issues are non-partisan.