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Indian values cornerstones of Democratic Party

I founded INDN's List because I believe that we can only begin to solve the problems of Indian country when we bring American Indians into the political process. In 2006 we supported 26 Indian candidates representing 19 tribes and 12 states, and 20 of those candidates (77 percent) won election. These newly elected Indian officials are busy building a better future for their districts and for Indian country in state legislatures and local offices across the country.

That success would never have been possible without the continuing support of Gov. Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and his commitment to building an inclusive Democratic Party that reaches out to every constituency in every state. The marginalization and exclusion of any group from the political process, whether it be American Indians from mainstream politics or ''red state'' residents from the Democratic Party hurts our people, our party, our politics and our country. The DNC's 50 State Strategy implemented by Gov. Dean proved in 2006 that Democrats can build strong parties and run electable candidates in states around the country. The strategy is not just smart politics, but it is the right thing to do.

The key to strengthening the party across the country is to reach out to natural constituencies and potential allies: those people who share the values and aspirations that drive the Democratic Party. American Indians are one such ally. Our commitment to improving education, health care, working conditions, and the environment are central to Indian values and cornerstones of the Democratic Party.

Through his continuing support of INDN's List and with his creation of the Native American Outreach Committee, Gov. Dean has shown time and again that Democrats are serious about building a better future for Indian country. Gov. Dean shares with me a commitment to a better, more inclusive Democratic Party and a stronger, brighter future for Indian country, and because of his work at the DNC we will replace hopelessness with opportunity on our reservations and injustice with dignity in our country.

- Kalyn Free

Tulsa, Okla.Kalyn Free is founder and president of INDN's List.