Swan’s song

My name is Robin Jay Swan and I am Chippewa Cree from Rocky Boy, Mont., but I am married to a Navajo lady and living in Navajo land in Thoreau, N.M. After watching the first presidential debate, I feel compelled to say something: not only to the First Americans of this country, but to middle- and low-income non-Indians.

I have been voting in the federal elections since Bill Clinton’s first run, although I am older than that. In my younger years, I never really paid attention to politics, even after I heard people say that if you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to complain. I also knew that it was politics that decided my fate as a First American. I knew that politics played a role in the freedoms and federal protections on how I worship and where I call my home.

Although I was aware of all of these things, and even a few more that I have not mentioned, I didn’t want to pay attention to politics because of the angry feelings that I ended up with more often than not when I did pay attention. However, not long after I became a father, I started to worry about the future.

I have to admit that I was a little discouraged after George W. was somehow elected president of the U.S. in 2000. I felt like my vote didn’t even count. Then when the elections of 2004 were coming around, I thought that America had enough common sense to not make the same mistake twice. I have never been so wrong in my life. What really surprised me was that there were many Native Americans that did vote for George W., especially in the Four Corners area, after the president of one of the largest First Nations endorsed John Kerry.

I knew a couple of First American Republicans, and I mentioned to them that it was in the best interest for all Indians to now vote for John Kerry because of the endorsement. I warned them that if George W. was to get back in, that he would not forget what the “Indians” did, and get even. Especially because of the term limits for president of the United States. I can sadly say that I was right, because what was one of the first things he did after his second inauguration? He cut IHS funding and Justice Department funding where First American law and order funds come from.

Now, we are facing the cuts again. After what has been going on with the housing crisis, which in turn has caused Wall Street to call for a “bailout,” we are facing cuts again. At the debate John McCain said that he would consider cutting spending, except for the military and veterans. I have no doubts that Indian programs are the first things that are going to be on the chopping block just like they were when George W. got in, if John McCain wins the presidency. Not only are Indian programs in danger of serious cuts, but no doubt programs that help low-income and no-income people are, too, because the Wall Street failures will eventually trickle down to cause huge state-funded program cuts.

Now is the time to use common sense instead of loyalty and party values. I hear a lot of people say that they are going to vote for McCain because Sen. Barack Obama is too young and doesn’t have much experience. People said the same thing about President Clinton, but look at how he turned the economy around after the first Bush failures.

I hear some First Nations people say that they are supporting the Republicans because what they did for Indians back in the 70s. It is time to live in today, and not 30 years ago, because if you don’t, we might end up living like 80 years ago when this country was in the Great Depression. Then I also hear some First Nations people say that they aren’t even going to vote. What is ironic is that these same ones are having health problems and some are out of jobs because of the housing crisis.

If McCain gets in there, there is going to be a lot more pain and suffering for those who are suffering from pain, and the ones without jobs won’t be able to afford the basic necessities of life. No doubt, if the programs that are available to help low-income and no-income families don’t get cut, there will be stricter provisions added to the programs to be eligible for them.

I strongly urge all First Nation people, and low-income people to vote, and to vote for Sen. Obama. I also just read how Palin does not even support Natives in Alaska. She is more intent on promoting non-Native sport hunting and fishing, as well as oil exploration, which is endangering the way of life of the remote Natives of Alaska. She won’t even make time for a sit-down with Native leaders to discuss these issues that are extremely important to the very existence of these Natives.

It is time to stand up for each other. Whatever party a person is a part of, it is in the best interest of everyone to vote for Sen. Obama. I am Robin Jay Swan, and I approve this message. Thank you.

– Robin Jay Swan

Thoreau, N.M.