Indigenous values helped shape American democracy and now help increase Indigenous representation.
In this year’s primary elections, there are more than 100 Indigenous candidates running for state or federal office in the United States. These leaders are no strangers to governance and civic duty. Native American values, such as the Iroquois Great Peace Act, served as the basic model for American democracy.
Yet these civic leaders face significant hurdles, especially when campaigning in many non-Indigenous neighborhoods. They must overcome limited mainstream perceptions of indigenous and indigenous issues, remnants of colonialism and horizontal violence, and competing interests.
A community activist and citizen of the Occaneich Band of North Carolina-sanctioned saponification, Crystal Cavalier ran for the Democratic primary in May in the 4th District of the North Carolina Legislature. The majority of her 875,000 voters in that constituency identify as European (54.4%) and female (51.5%). Cavalier failed to advance to the general election, but plans to run again in 2024.
For the Cavaliers, running for public office is just one part of a long journey of activism. She holds degrees in Political Science and Public Administration and has a background as a Certified Cyber and Information Security analyst. Cavalier and her husband co-founded 7 Directions of Service, a non-profit organization for ecological and community work. They have so far been successful in opposing the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Southgate Extension, which carve out the community.
“I have fought for the community in which I live,” says Cavalier.
Lawmakers and organizations have called the proposed pipeline an “environmental catastrophe with no certainty of completion.” The Cavalier community county board voted unanimously to ban access to MVP Southgate. This is because it poses a danger to the local Hoe River, drinking water, public safety and property values. The Cavaliers regularly host organizer phone calls and letter-writing campaigns, along with allies of civic leaders such as Stephen Pulliam, the riverkeeper of the nearby River Dunn, to oppose the construction of the pipeline.
“Being a water protector means understanding that water is your cousin,” she says. “You are speaking up for something voiceless.”
The DC Circuit Court recently upheld FERC’s approval of the project. However, we cannot proceed until the mainline system project receives all permissions.
“We are calling on Biden to stop MVP. He can issue an executive order or stop the whole thing,” says Cavalier. But as it stands, “Biden has not lived up to his campaign promises to indigenous communities.”
Missing and Killed Indigenous Peoples
Another campaign issue involved resolving the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women and people. For example, the legal framework for prosecuting unsolved crimes and non-Indigenous perpetrators and offenders who commit crimes on Indigenous territories or communities.
Cavalier defends missing and murdered indigenous peoples while opposing the pipeline. “These oil and extractive industries are expanding into areas where tribes settle and influence violence, human trafficking and drug trafficking. It is therefore important to emphasize climate justice alongside racial equity. ”
Peter Landeros, executive director of the American Indian Movement for the DMV region, agrees. “Indigenous reservations and urban areas still have the same problem, and no one is willing to discuss changing the law to prosecute non-Indigenous perpetrators. .”
Indigenous organizers like Cavalier and Landeros have worked for decades to bring visibility to issues such as the disappearances and killings of indigenous peoples, their voting rights and the impact of pipelines on waterways. Or caution.
Elizabeth Mercedes Krause is a citizen of Oglala Lakota who recently won the primary election for the Second District of the Nevada House of Representatives. Nevada’s Indigenous population ranked her ninth highest in the United States in 2019 and her 5.1% of Nevada’s population in the 2020 Census.
“The top four questions I received from the community were about missing or murdered Native Americans,” says Krause. And for good reason. “An Indigenous woman is 10 times more likely to be murdered than the national average,” she says. “Four in five experience violence. Homicide is the leading cause of death between the ages of 10 and 24.”
However, deep prejudices against Native Americans still keep law enforcement from knowing the identities of victims, creating clear gaps in the data. Identity and data erasure is a national practice in civil and criminal proceedings. And that is if the case was investigated in the first place.
In May, Krause attended an MMIP event in her area and told the story of a family who lost a daughter, then a second, and then a grandson. Her aunt and next of kin are currently in the care of the rest of the children, but nothing has yet been announced about the suspect, the family’s whereabouts, or the outcome.
“My God,” she says. “Accurate reporting requires regulation of rules and funds, so that as many systems as possible are alerted when a missing person occurs.”
Krause said that while positive initiatives are underway, there is still much work to be done on the legislative and law enforcement side to properly collate data and issue timely warnings.
Lack of trust in local and federal law enforcement is a big factor, according to Paula Jillian, senior policy specialist at the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center. After hundreds of years of treaty violations, acts of genocide and assimilation tactics, indigenous communities have a deep mistrust of law enforcement, and much remains to be seen in the way authorities handle cases and complaints. not.
The Indian Affairs Bureau itself has come under attack for refusing to enforce the law on its own officials. For example, on April 15, 2022, the Montana Supreme Court heard a case in which the state attorney’s office argued that BIA was not responsible for raping and threatening a northern Cheyenne woman in her home. The abduction of her children is a vicious reminder of the traumatic and not-so-distant past policy of ‘India’s child abduction’.
Yet Gillian’s organization continues to fight for a solution. We are calling for federal assistance in investigating MMIP cases and federal accountability for discrimination, abuse, and violence by law enforcement and federal officials against Indigenous peoples.
“There are no results yet. ʻmeasurable” or ʻIt makes sense,” Gillian says.
Cavalier highlights the increasing levels of violence and human trafficking associated with extractive industries such as oil in tribal areas. The two are closely related.
Cavalier cites a 2017 report on MMIP by the Urban Indian Health Institute, which did not include any data from the southeastern United States. Some of the reasons are historical. Although the Indian Removal Act and the Civil War caused a mass migration of free people of color westward between 1830 and 1865, approximately 764,000 people still identify as Native Americans in the Southeastern region.
“It is important to emphasize climate justice alongside racial equality because [authorities] Aboriginal people are often viewed as invisible,” says Cavalier. “The government wants people to believe that people east of the Mississippi are not indigenous, but that’s not true.”
Patrick Pihana Blanco is a former U.S. Department of Foreign Affairs diplomat and Native Hawaiian state-level representative of the state of Hawaii.ʻThe 50th district of i. He is running for his August 13th general election for the second district of the US Congress. The region is not only ethnically diverse, but also geographically diverse, with seven different islands, each a different community with different issues to deal with. Still, the Native Hawaiian community is a minority of the population.
Sustainable Energy Is Hawaii’s Top PriorityʻI say that because four-fifths of the state’s energy is produced through oil consumption, and we have the highest fuel costs in the country.
“I wouldn’t say it’s specifically an Indigenous issue, but it’s a Hawaii-wide issue.ʻWe agreed that is important,” says Blanco.he is hawaiiʻI was the first state to adopt the Paris Climate Agreement and set a 100% clean energy target by 2045, and one of the few states capable of producing all forms of renewable energy including wind, wave, solar and geothermal. is also one of “It’s very important to take advantage of all these technologies for our future,” says Blanco.
He sees Native leadership as an important aspect in improving the rights and conditions of Native Hawaiians, both in terms of renewable energy and beyond. As such, Branco will host a mentoring program for future native candidates, building on the program he participated in in Washington, D.C. as a Rangel Fellow in 2010 with Congressman Charles Rangel. This program provided mentoring as a foreign diplomat, including travel training to support various representatives.
“He created a program that included 20 diverse people from all over the country,” Blanco says. “I was the first person from HawaiiʻI will be chosen Since then, I have maintained my current role in the State Legislature, making sure my office is always a safe place for young people to come and learn. I am very proud that some of the people who worked for me at , have now gone on to law school, fellowships, and some are even thinking of running for public office. ”
But despite these efforts, in 2022, Native Americans will not have equal representation or voting rights.
In the Elizabeth-Mercedes-Claus area of Nevada, “only 11 of the 28 tribal communities have legally guaranteed polling places,” she says. Members of Yemba’s community actually rode out into remote areas on horseback to collect ballots, she said.
Krause, an Advanced Native Political Leadership alumnus, says 64 representatives are needed across Nevada based on the distribution of tribal communities. But the actual number he is less than five.
“I’m making a list of everything I’m going through and need more help with,” says Krause. “We need structures built to support our running.”
In between efforts like Klaus and Blanco, indigenous candidates are not only increasing representation of indigenous communities and raising awareness in mainstream elections, but also making indigenous voices heard within the collective consciousness of the United States, Paving a solid path to be respected.
Blanco looks forward with both amazement and hope. “My story is unique and I have to give something back to Hawaii.ʻI am,” he says. “It’s an honor. I truly believe that my story is possible only because there were people who cared about me and really invested in me. It’s time to take care and invest.”
He has been a news media contributor for over 10 years, 7 years for local online news and 15 years for commercial copywriting. She currently covers politics, business, social justice, culture, food and wellness.