Last Real Indians

Diversity Matters: Presidential Debates‏

By  :  Rhonda LeValdo

With the Presidential election’s first debate set for Wednesday, it is unfortunate that the moderators chosen to ask the questions do not reflect the diversity of this country.  How will minority issues be addressed if the moderators don’t represent any people of color?

 

Tribal sovereignty and the federal fiduciary responsibility to Indian Nations weigh upon both Native Americans and the government.  Ignoring Native Nations is disappointing, but it squarely points out the Commission of Presidential Candidates (CPD) position on the federal relationship to Native Nations.  Twenty years ago, in 1992, was the last time a person of color, African-American Carole Simpson, was involved in both Presidential and Vice Presidential debates.  The CPD are missing out on an opportunity to engage so many different audiences.

 

In regards to Native Americans, they all share a unique relationship with the United States government.  A relationship that needs to be addressed and shown that these candidates are fully aware of the responsibilities that come with engaging tribal nations.

 

It would have also been a wonderful teaching opportunity for many Americans to hear and learn about on a national stage.  Native Nations should not be ignored in these debates.

 

Recently, I was thinking of Native Journalists who could pose questions to the candidates and I remembered how Shoshone-Bannock tribal member Mark Trahant stumped President George W. Bush on the question “What does tribal sovereignty mean in the 21st century and how do we resolve conflicts between, tribes and federal and state governments”.  President Bush replied, “it means your sovereign, you have been given sovereignty, your viewed as a sovereign entity”.

 

The amount of gasps and laughter to his answer on a question about one of the most important issues facing Native Nations since the beginning of this relationship, explains the need to have the moderators accurately reflect the people that live on this land.  Listen to the people CPD, it is critical in understanding, fully understanding the complete history of this country.

 

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) held a meeting with the CPD and asked all the minority journalists alliances (that included the Asian American Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association) to submit questions that may used during the debates.  All the people of this country deserve to be represented during these debates, now we shall see if the moderators will take this opportunity given to them.

 

Rhonda LeValdo is a Faculty member at Haskell Indian Nations University teaching Media Communications. She is also the President of the Native American Journalists Association(NAJA).