It’s Presidents’ Day in the midst of a presidential election year and ICTMN has a host of information for readers to ponder.
First, ICTMN’s Rob Capricciso has an enlightening story on how some tribal members and officials are giving President Barack Obama their nod – through cash contributions – of approval for a second term.
A recent “Native-specific” campaign fundraiser may have brought in more than $2 million to the president.
The D.C. event ended with Obama saying: “And if you stick with me, I promise you guys I’m going to be sticking with you.”
In a sign of growing tribal political clout, 70 Indian officials attended a first-ever Native-specific campaign fund-raiser with President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C. on January 27.
“I believe that one day we’re going to be able to look back on these years and say this was a turning point in nation-to-nation relations,” Obama said in a speech at the event. “That this was [a] turning point when the nations all across the country recognized that they were full partners, treated with dignity and respect and consultation; that this wasn’t just a side note on a White House agenda, but this was part and parcel of our broader agenda to make sure that everybody has opportunity.”
Also very interesting from ICTMN, a look at the “Best Presidents” for Indian Country. Capricciso ranks eight presidents going back to Ulysses S. Grant.
As for the fundraising event in Washington, D.C. last month, Obama stayed at the event for about 30 minutes.
In a telling sign about the current state of American campaign finance, tickets for this event started at $15,000. For $35,800, donors got dinner and a reception with Obama, where they got their picture taken with him. Under campaign finance law, $35,800 was the maximum allowable donation. All proceeds were said to go to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint committee authorized by Obama for America and the DNC.
If each tribal donor contributed the maximum amount, the president made $2.5 million from an event he attended. . .
The current statistics are shocking enough, and a new clarification of definition of rape may highlight more troublesome, increased numbers of rape cases in Indian Country.
As Rob Capriccioso reports on ICTMN, the Obama Administration recently expanded the official definition of rape. That could help tell a more accurate picture of sexual assaults across the country and help define a solution.
In the past, the numbers have shown Native women are more than three and half times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape.
That revelation was made clear January 6 when the Obama administration announced that the federal government would also begin counting rapes toward women that were done by an object or mouth on the vagina or anus without consent, and it would begin counting rapes of children and men as well. The new data will be collected for the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The new definition is more consistent with state laws and local crime reports, administration officials said.
Obama administration officials said the new measuring methods may lead to an increase in the number of counted rapes nationwide, including those in Indian country.
“This major policy change will lead to more accurate reporting and far more comprehensive understanding of this devastating crime,” said Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to Obama, in a press conference call. She called the old data “incomplete,” and said that “it has not captured the true impact of this crime.”
Capriccioso also discusses in his report how decreased federal funding for certain programs inhibits the prosecution of attackers and resources available to victims of rape in Indian Country.
Elouise Cobell, lead plaintiff in the Cobell v. Salazar lawsuit, uses this week’s Ask Elouise letter to discuss the passage of legislation in the Senate authorizing the suit’s settlement. She also discusses the fight ahead, as the legislation still needs a nod from the House and the president’s signature to be finally approved.
Dear Indian Country
This is the fifteenth letter in a series of open letters that I’m sending to Indian Country. The purpose of this letter is to update you about the settlement.
Since my last Ask Elouise letter (September 30, 2010), I and our representatives have been frequently meeting with both Republican and Democratic Members of Congress and their staffs. We have been advocating on behalf of our settlement legislation and its importance to more than 500,000 individual Indians. The Senate has been a particularly difficult hurdle, having stripped us off of numerous pieces of legislation on multiple occasions for unrelated political reasons.
However, after almost 12 months of working with the Senate, it is with great pleasure that I can share good news with you – on Friday, November 19, the Senate unanimously passed legislation authorizing our settlement. The settlement was revised by the Senate to increase the distribution fund by $100 million and ensure that the neediest members of the class are treated fairly. One hundred Senators voiced their support and voted to pass legislation that will approve this landmark settlement. It is not possible to overstate this unprecedented vote of approval in the Senate.
Read the rest of this entry »
OK, so maybe we’re giving ourselves too much credit to assume anyone would feel lucky to read this blog.
The fact is, though, you’re lucky if you have the Internet connection that lets you read it.
As Rob Capriccioso writes here in Indian Country Today, Internet access across far too much of Indian Country is “a fuzzy, crackly mess.”
A new report conducted by Native Public Media with assistance from the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative estimates broadband penetration in Indian country to be less than 10 percent. And it says now is the time to combat the problem via a concrete federal and tribal policy path toward improvement.
Yep, 10 percent. That puts Indian Country, according to these statistics, behind Algeria, Cuba and Christmas Island, for heaven’s sake, just a speck in the Pacific Ocean with only 1,400 residents.
Why is this a big deal? Because if Indian people don’t have easy access to information, it helps keep them marginalized from the political and governmental processes so key to their getting the services to which they are entitled and that they deserve. As the report says, their voices are stifled. (Check out the report here.)
Help could come in the form of the stimulus, which mandates the creation of a National Broadband Plan and – more to the point – authorizes $7 billion for broadband infrastructure in under-served areas.
We’re all for that – for all the reasons cited above and because it’ll mean more people can check us out, too!
American Indians continue to face discriminatory policies and actions that deny them their constitutional right to vote, according to this report released today by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The report gives a historic overview of discrimination against Indian people that limits their participation in local, state and national elections. And it focuses on the ACLU’s legal challenges on behalf of Indians to unlawful election practices in five western states: Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.
“Every American deserves an equal voice in the political process,” says Laughlin McDonald, Director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project and one of the principal authors of the report. “The effects of discrimination against Indians continue and so must the fight for the fundamental right to vote. Compliance with the Voting Rights Act is not optional.”
He was known throughout Indian country as a leader, a fighter, and by his nickname, “the Liberal Lion of the Senate.” Kennedy leaves behind a legacy of legislative achievements that strike at nearly every facet of Native American lives
Sen. Ted Kennedy (AP photo)
, writes Chris Stearns here
in Indian Country Today.
Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, who died Tuesday, will be buried tomorrow evening near his brothers at Arlington National Cemetery in northern Virginia.
Ted Kennedy took over chairmanship if the the Senate Special Subcommittee on Indian Education in early 1969. His older brother, Robert F. Kennedy, served as the subcommittee’s first chairman, before he was assassinated in 1968.
While on the panel, he pulled no punches, Stearns writes. When the subcommittee issued a groundbreaking report on Indian policies in 1969, he termed it “a major indictment.”
And Kennedy said that the report “raises serious questions about this nation’s most basic concepts of political democracy. It challenges the most precious assumptions about what this country stands for – cultural pluralism, equity and justice, the integrity of the individual, freedom of conscience and action, and the pursuit of happiness. Relations with the American Indian constitute a ‘morality play’ of profound importance in our nation’s history.”
“a national tragedy and a national disgrace.”
Former Navajo Nation president Peter Zah says Kennedy’s “heart was in the right place and he will long be remembered by the Navajo and Indian people as a man who fought for our rights and our rightful place in life.”