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Opinion
Vote: Your life depends on it


Ed. Note: The following is a commentary by Anthony R. Pico, chairman of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians from California.

Vote, like your life depended on it: Because it does.

The President appoints and the U.S. Senate confirms the judges who will respect or limit sovereignty. The next Supreme Court can return to court precedents, recognizing the inherent sovereignty of tribes, or continue on the course of judicial termination.

If we lose this battle, we will have forfeited the dreams of our ancestors and dishonored the sacrifices they made to get us to this point in time.

A time when Indians have the best chance we have had in hundreds of years to once again control our destiny.

There�s a war going on in Indian Country. It�s not a military battle, but a political battle for Tribal self-governance and economic recovery. The battle zone shifts from the courts to congress and state governments.

Victory can only be secured the public arena, where public policy is determined. The Native Vote is a weapon we carry in our modern quivers. Aim carefully and shoot.

Vote, like you have the right: Because you do. America is our home. More American Indians have fought and died in foreign wars than any other group of Americans.

The concept of representative democracy was learned from American Indians. Mainstream political words and practices like consensus building, councils and caucus were borrowed from our people.

Vote, like it will make a difference: Because it does. Two years ago in South Dakota the Native vote by a slim margin, decided the winner of the state�s U.S. Senatorial election.

In recent elections from president to congress, a very few votes have changed the course of history and policy.

Vote for the promises that Americans made to our ancestors. Federal policy toward American Indians changed four times in 100 years, and they all failed.

Today, we are on the verge of a renaissance under the 30-year-old policy of tribal self-government and economic development.

Vote to keep this window of opportunity open until of all Indian Country has exercised our individual and collective visions of a future beyond poverty and oppression.

Our roots must be strong enough to withstand changes in the political climate, the tree tall enough to harbor the next seven generations.

Vote for the promise that the future holds for American Indians. Do more than register and vote on November 2, recruit others.

Relevant Links:
Native Vote 2004 - http://www.nativevote.org

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