An article in Indian Country Today asked, ''Is gender playing a role in Montana's Indian vote?'' by Rob Capriccioso. [Vol. 27, Iss. 51] No, it isn't.
I'll tell you why I support Sen. Barack Obama.
The Billings (Mont.) Gazette Newspaper printed a Gazette Opinion May 29 and it was a reminder to all of us. The article reinforced my position of saying ''the same old, same old rhetorical politics'' is going on in Washington, D.C. This is what the Gazette said:
''In April 1993, Hillary Clinton met with about 50 health care professionals in the YWCA gym in Billings, Mt. They spent an hour telling her and Montana's entire congressional delegation [Max Baucus, Conrad Burns, and Pat Williams] about rural health care needs, while a national press contingent recorded the event. Back then, Clinton told her Billings audience that health care reform is 'a huge undertaking, but the status quo is not acceptable.'''
Now, can anybody in Indian country tell me there have been improvements in the health care system in the last 15 years? Did I miss something?
Obama told a Crow audience May 19 how he grew up. He was raised by a single mother: his dad left when he was 2 years old. His family then moved to Hawaii during his childhood years, and [he] ''knows exactly how Native Americans feel to be treated different, to be looked at as different.'' They then moved to Indonesia, a country with Third World living conditions, and then moved back to the U.S. to be raised by his grandparents.
His upbringing sounds all too familiar to me in Indian country. This is why we desperately need a ''Real Change,'' not just rhetoric.
Furthermore, Obama is blasted for his inexperience. Looking at the points stated above, there is definitely a huge contrast to illustrate why I support him. In the 1990s, Clinton's husband was the president. I've got to admit he did do us some good in this country while president. He signed the last Indian Health Care Improvement Act re-authorization in 1993 - 94.
However, President Clinton was in power until 2000, then Sen. Hillary Clinton was elected to the New York Senate in 2000, and Sen. John McCain was a chairman of the Senate Committee of Indian Affairs Committee. The IHCIA had not been re-authorized until an inexperienced senator, Jon Tester from Montana, elected to the Senate in 2006, helped to get it passed this year.
This is 2008. I don't think much has changed in the last 15 years. Now, hopefully, after this election season is over - whoever is president - I hope the campaign promises that were made are kept. Indian country also needs to keep in mind that McCain made it crystal-clear what kind of Supreme Court justice he's going to appoint. I understand that the next president may appoint up to two justices. The way some of the rulings by the Supreme Court have been going, Indian country will be in for a world of hurt.
So, as a Native American male from Montana, I felt I was being labeled. My support for Obama over Clinton is not based on gender. It never was, and it never will be.
- Jonathan Windy Boy
Co-chair, Native Americans for Barack Obama in MontanaChippewa Cree tribal councilmanState Representative, House District 32Montana Senate District 16 candidateBox Elder, Mont.