Why the Native Vote Matters – for Tribal Communities, our State and our Country

IN EVERY ELECTION, THE NATIVE VOTE IS IMPORTANT.

Many experts say the Native vote has been the deciding factor in elections across the country in recent years. In Oklahoma, there are 38 federally recognized tribes and those identifying as American Indian over 18 years of age, make-up 12.1% of the population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2016 Population Estimates.

If this 12.1% mobilized and took action, the tides could turn in elections with the significant power of the Native vote. It’s important for our tribal members to educate themselves on the candidates running for office and on the issues important to Indian Country.

Tribes spend millions of dollars each year lobbying Congress to pass legislation that will impact tribal communities. As a tribal member, you can do your part by showing up on Election Day. The smaller elections and statewide elections decide what happens in our communities.

Use your voice, your vote to make a difference with important issues such as Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), Tribal Sovereignty, Gaming, Criminal Justice Reform and Healthcare.

It’s also critical that we continue to support and elect Native Americans to public office on the local, state and national levels. You can do your part by campaigning, making donations and voting for tribal members running for office.

There are so many critical issues facing Indian Country, issues that don’t get nearly enough attention on the national stage. Voting alone won’t fix every complex social or policy problem, but it’s the first step in holding elected officials accountable for progress on these issues.

We, as Native Americans, must show our strength through unity. If we vote, we can elect representatives who support the causes important to the tribes.

There’s much work to be done and the easiest way to affect change is to VOTE! See you at the polls on June 30th. For information on Native candidates, how to register to vote and issues important to tribal communities, contact Native American Action on Facebook.

Native America Action raises Native issues to Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders during his visit to the Comanche Nation

Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (Senator, I-VT) visited the Comanche Nation Fair, and Native America Action was there. NAA Director and Board Member LaRenda Morgan, and NAA Volunteer Raven Morgan, advocated for key native issues including murdered and missing indigenous woman, funding for Indian Health Services and Indian child welfare, and expressed concerns regained the lack of government compliance in these areas.

Native America Action Volunteer Raven Morgan with Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders during his Oklahoma visit to the Comanche Nation’s Fair

The opportunity to provide awareness of Native issues to a Presidential candidate keeps Native needs at the forefront during an election cycle. The coming 2020 election will be a pivotal one for Native communities, and one where the Native vote (regardless of political party) has the opportunity to be seen. Whether Republican or Democrat, Native voters are encouraged to look at Native issues when they consider their vote. Likewise, Native America Action continues to look at ways to promote Native needs and raise awareness regarding threats to Native Sovereignty amongst candidates of all political parties to educate them and provide the opportunity in which all candidates can see Native issues and speak about how to resolve them.

Native America Action is a non-partisan operational arm of the Native America Super PAC with a specific focus on protecting Native Sovereignty. NAA provides voter registration to Native communities and events and attempts to raise awareness for the importance of the Native voice and vote. Native America Action also invests time to educate political candidates of any party regarding Native issues and challenges.

Director and Board Member LaRenda Morgan (sitting middle) was among the those who spoke with Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at the Comanche Nation Fair

Yakama Nation Wins Supreme Court Contest Over Sovereignty Rights With Pivotal Trump Nominee Support

As reported by NPR, the Supreme Court found in favor of the Yakama Nation in their case upholding their Treaty Rights to transport goods without taxation. Conservative Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch, who previously served as a judge on the Federal Court of Appeals in Denver, has broad experience with Native American Tribal needs with his previous appointment overseeing six states and 76 federally recognized Native Nations. While being the fifth member of the court to side with the Yakama Nation, Justice Gorsuch wrote a separate opinion representing himself and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

His opinion as NPR reports, ‘What the tribe got in exchange, he said, was a right it had had for centuries — not only the right to travel on public highways, but “the right to move goods freely to and from market using those highways,” without having to pay a tax or licensing fees on those goods. The only thing the U.S. government gave up, and that the Yakamas insisted on in 1855, was the U.S. government’s promise “not to impose a tax or toll on tribal members or their goods as they pass to and from market.”‘

For the Yakama Nation, their 1855 Treaty with the United States was made with the wisdom and knowledge of the US Government’s dealings with Native Nations in the decades before. With that inclusion into their treaty, this week’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court solidifies the Yakama Nation’s Native Sovereignty as it was meant to be, acknowledged in 1855 and carrying forward beyond today.

In the NPR report, Justice Gorsuch’s statement rings true for the history behind the treaty in 1855 – ‘”It was a price the United States was more than willing to pay” and “by any measure it was a bargain-basement deal,”‘ – which is a statement that resonates across Native America.

Read more of the NPR article at:

https://www.npr.org/2019/03/20/704926048/gorsuch-provides-decisive-5th-vote-in-case-interpreting-treaty-with-indian-tribe

You can find the Yakama Nation at:

http://www.yakamanation-nsn.gov/index.php

Senate Legislation introduced to “Shutdown-Proof” Tribal Government services

An article posted by Native News Online today announced a new effort to protect Native Nations. Legislation has been introduced in the Senate to protect Indian Health Services and BIA from future government shutdowns by Senator Tom Udall (D – NM), ranking member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

This effort is significant as federal services and funding are a requirement to uphold the treaties in place between the United States and Native Nations. This responsibility isn’t readily understood within Congress.

From the article, “I have been hearing heartbreaking stories about the impact of the shutdown has had on Indian Country, Indian Country is the hardest hit by the Trump shutdown,” said Sen. Udall.

The article further states, “Udall announced the introduction of his bill, the Indian Programs Advance Appropriations Act (IPAAA), to protect essential federal and Tribal programs from the detrimental impacts of future government shutdowns and short-term funding bills. The IPAAA would authorize advance funding for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Indian Health Service (IHS), and contract support cost programs for Tribes that opt to take over operation of IHS and BIA services.”

Read more of the full article at Native News Online here:

https://nativenewsonline.net/currents/sen-udall-announces-bill-to-protect-essential-tribal-programs-from-being-jeopardized-by-future-shutdowns/

U.S. Supreme Court Deciding Native Sovereignty In Oklahoma

An obscure murder case has finally worked its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and at stake is how the entire State of Oklahoma was carved out of Native treaty land. For Native Americans across the United States, this is a key moment and the decision will be a key decision – to rightly recognize Native Sovereignty in Oklahoma.

Perhaps the best article providing an update comes from an article in the Washington Post by Rebecca Nagle, a writer and citizen of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma.

Half the land in Oklahoma could be returned to Native Americans. It should be.

A Supreme Court case about jurisdiction in an obscure murder has huge implications for tribes. [ READ Washington Post Article]

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/11/28/half-land-oklahoma-could-be-returned-native-americans-it-should-be/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.e60f453d3222

HB2661: Oklahoma is Native America

For so much of our lifetime, the observation, recognition, and celebration of Columbus Day came as another silent indignation for Oklahoma’s Native Nations and Tribal communities. It has stood as an oppressive reminder of Native history.

Finally, the State of Oklahoma provides a path to look to the future with HB2661, the ability to celebrate Native American Day, replacing the other unfortunate reminder.

Native America Action encourages Governor Fallin to sign HB2661, which both the Oklahoma House and Senate have so diligently put forward and passed.

To not sign this bill continues an unfortunate reminder of a painful history.

Native America Action First Tribal Elder Winter Coat Delivery To Otoe Missouria Tribe

In our cover picture from Right to Left – Consuela (Elder Program worker from Otoe Missouria Tribe), Karen Kanaitobe (Comanche Nation Outreach Director who volunteered as a Winter Coat Drive drop off site), Native America Action Director LaRenda Morgan, Jeanie (Elder Program worker from Otoe Missouria Tribe), and Native America Action Outreach Coordinator Joley Singer.

Native America Action’s Tribal Elder Winter Coat Drive has seen its first delivery of coats to the Elder Program at the Otoe Missouria Tribe. These coat donations were provided by donors who dropped off at the Comanche Nation Outreach Center in Oklahoma City. For the Winter Coat Drive, there are still other donation drop off points in Tulsa and Muskogee and coats will can still be collected in the Oklahoma City area which will be handed out to Tribal Elders in upcoming distributions.

Pictured above, Consuela and Jeanie from the Otoe Missouria Tribe’s Elder Program receives the coats collected by Native America Action Director LaRenda Morgan, and Outreach Coordinator Joley Singer. Pictured below, LaRenda and Joley are with the coat donations for Tribal Elders that were collected at the Comanche Nation Outreach Center in Oklahoma City.

Native America Action will continue reaching out for additional Coat donations for the upcoming distributions. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About Native America Action…

Native America Action is the outreach arm of the Native America Super PAC and is a 501(c)4 and an Oklahoma Not-For-Profit organization. As a political action group, Native America Action is a Non-Partisan and Native First organization that provides outreach to Native communities including voter registration, information for Native involvement in State and Federal elections, and encouragement of Native candidates to run for office. In this context, political parties are secondary – Native efforts within all political parties is encouraged equally, and Native America Action and the Native America Super PAC positions Native needs and issues to all candidates and members of Congress without regard for political standing. Funding for Native America Action comes from concerned individuals and organizations who support a stronger Native America.

Native America Action at the 2017 Choctaw Pow Wow

Last weekend, December 2nd & 3rd, Native America Action was set up at the 2017 Choctaw Pow Wow. Directors LaRenda Morgan and Kristen McCormick, along with volunteers Joley Singer and Raven Morgan, were in attendance.

Outreach volunteer Raven Morgan and Kristen McCormick, pictured above, provide information about Native America Action and voter registration.

Pictured above is Kristen McCormick, Director of Legislative Affairs with Powwow Dancer George LoneElk from California and Native America Action Outreach Coordinator Joley Singer.

Above is pictured Native America Action Directors Kristen McCormick & LaRenda Morgan with World Champion Northern Traditional Dancer Chaske LaBlanc from Minnesota.

Native America Action is currently completing the 2017 Winter Coat Drive. Donations will be delivered to Tribal Elders throughout Oklahoma later in December. If you have new or gently used coats that you can contribute – please contact LaRenda Morgan at larenda@nativeamerica.info.

Native America Action is also raising funds to support Native American Issues in the upcoming 2018 elections. If you would like to donate money, you can do so here.

Follow Native America Action on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

Native America Action Attends The American Indian Chamber Of Commerce of Oklahoma’s The Gathering

Native America Action Directors LaRenda Morgan, Director of Native Candidate Relations and Outreach, and Kristen McCormick, Director of Legislative Affairs, attended The Gathering this week, the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma’s largest event of the year. LaRenda Morgan and Kristen McCormick are pictured above with Gary “Litefoot” Davis, Executive Director for Native American Financial Services Association (NAFSA).

Mr. Davis was the opening keynote speaker for this event, and his organization’s mission is to advocate for tribal sovereignty, promote responsible financial services, and provide better economic opportunity in Indian Country for the benefit of tribal communities.

It was both LaRenda’s and Kristen’s great honor to be able to attend Mr. Davis’ keynote as well as his participation in a moderated panel at the event.

For Native America Action, The Gathering represented an opportunity not just to network with Native organizations and businesses, but to evaluate the challenges facing Tribal Governments and Native Nations through the lens of those who meet and support the business needs for many of our Native communities. As Native America Action continues its work with Native communities through voter registration and support for Native involvement, there is a great opportunity to evaluate the needs and challenges facing such communities.

Pictured above is Chairman John Shotton, Otoe Missouria Tribe of Oklahoma pictured with Gary “Litefoot” Davis, Executive Director NAFSA.