Candidates reach out at 'Prez on the Rez' forum
Three Democratic candidates for president promised to include Native Americans if they win election in 2008.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson laid out a 14-point plan for improving Indian Country. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio said he has met with tribal leaders across the nation. Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel said he would free American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier.

The three were the only Democrats to attend the Prez on the Rez forum, held on the Morongo Reservation in California. The front-runners -- Sens. Hillary Clinton, of New York, and Barack Obama, of Illinois, and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards -- cited scheduling conflicts, though Clinton's campaign said a dispute over labor unions and tribal sovereignty also played a role.

"Some of the candidates saw perhaps a downside to coming here," Frank LaMere, a member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, told The Riverside Press-Enterprise. "I don't understand that. It was all good. How could you not want to come here?"

Robert Martin, the chairman of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, said candidates shouldn't ignore the Native vote. "They should take a moment and talk to Al Gore about what a few hundred votes can mean," he said. "Some candidates still don't get it."

Get the Story:
Three candidates appeal to American Indians rises at Prez on the Rez forum (The Riverside Press-Enterprise 8/24)
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Prez on Rez boost for tribes (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 8/24)
Tribes struggle to gain political pull (Gannett News Service 8/24)

Relevant Links:
Prez on the Rez - http://www.prezontherez.org
Indigenous Democratic Network - http://www.indnslist.org

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