Elections 2012: Including Indian Country at the Republican Convention

Four years ago, one of the most prominent Native Americans in Congress – Oklahoma’s Tom Cole, a member of the Chickasaw Nation – posted daily reports on YouTube from the convention in Minnesota. This year even his tweet feed was quiet, although he did a couple of interviews with media, including The Washington Post.

Indeed, other than the party platform, the GOP did not include Indian country in its national convention.

An interesting contrast is the last time the Republicans met in Florida. Meeting in Miami in 1972 there were not many American Indian or Alaska Native delegates – same as today – but those who were there were neither silent or insignificant. The American Indian Press Association reported attendance by Navajo Chairman Peter MacDonald, NCAI vice president Walter Moffett from the Nez Perce Tribe, Rosebud Chairman Webster Two Hawk, as well as Cheyenne River Chairman T.O. Traversie. (MacDonald was even slated to have a speaking role, but that came to a halt when Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater sided with the Hopis over the land dispute opening a public rift between the senator and the Navajo chairman.)

At Tampa, Robert Two Bears represented the Ho Chunk Nation (he will also attend the Democratic National Convention). He said he noticed that a couple of other tribes were at the RNC. He said there were many memorable moments but he was pleased to see the delegation from Wisconsin (state representatives, senators and governor) taking the time to meet with the Ho Chunk Nation. “I loved the speech from Mayor Mia Love,” he added. Love is a candidate for Congress from Utah. Her family is from Haiti and she is the first black woman mayor from that state.

Dozens of American Indians and Alaska Natives are delegates at the Democratic National Convention meeting today in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. He has been writing about Indian Country for more than three decades. His email is: marktrahant@thecedarsgroup.org.