Gipp addresses Indian issues at Democratic convention
David Gipp, president of the United Tribes Technical College in North Dakota, speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. August 26, 2008. Photo Lise King/The Native Voice.
Reporting and photos by Lise King, The Native Voice. Pick up the paper edition of The Native Voice for more exclusive reports from the Democratic National Convention.

The second day of the Democratic National Convention was just ramping up as tribal college leader David Gipp took the stage on behalf of Indian Country on Tuesday.

Though many delegates were still finding their seats, Gipp received cheers from across the floor of the Pepsi Center as he introduced himself around 3:30pm Mountain Time. He was one of the first speakers on a stage that drew the likes of former presidential candidate Sen. Hilary Clinton of New York, popular Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana and Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, who sits on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

"Hau. Anpetu Waste. My name is Dave Gipp. I'm a Hunkpapa Lakota from the Standing Rock Lakota and Nakota Nations. I'm president of the United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, North Dakota," said Gipp, who wore a bright blue beaded vest and bolo tie.

"I'm one of thousands of tribal citizens who support Senator Barack Obama for accepting tribal nations and their citizens in to the future he sees for America," he continued.

Gipp, the only Native person scheduled to speak during the convention, used his time on the podium to educate the nation about the history of Indian people and the challenges facing them today. He addressed a wide range of topics, from treaties to health care to education.

"We're not another special interest group trying to claim a share of the American pie. We are, after all, the First Americans," said Gipp. "We have paid our price with land and blood. Our status as tribal sovereign nations is specifically recognized in the U.S. Constitution. Our rights as tribal nations to determine our destiny within our great United States should be protected and honored by our government. Our treaties with the U.S. are the supreme law of the land."

In an audience sprinkled with Native people, his next statement was met with a resounding "Yes!" from the delegates. "Every step you take across this great nation, every vista you admire, every city you call by its tribal name was once Indian Country!" Gipp said.

The theme of the second day of the convention was "Renewing America's Promise." Gipp addressed the topic with a challenge for delegates to learn more about the educational institutions that are changing the face of Indian Country.

"We can only renew America's promise when the first Americans are legitimate participants in framing the future of this great country," he said. "I urge you to look at the nation's 37 tribal colleges and universities to help lead the way in fulfilling that promise for American Indians. These institutions provide tribal citizens with the skills they need to be vital contributors to society and throughout the nation."

"Our colleges are key to the renaissance of American Indian life as we save our languages and rebuild over 550 tribal nations. American Indians are still here and we're seeking justice for our people. We offer the strength of our spirituality and our connection to Mother Earth in renewing America's promise for all. Let us remember the words of the great Hunkpapa Sitting Bull, 'Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our country.'"

His final words were met with more cheers and applause from the delegates. "Pilamaya. Thank you. Mitakuye Oyasin. We are all related. Every race, creed and color. We are indeed all related. Pilamaya, thank you," said Gipp.

The convention continues today, with the Native delegates set to meet for their caucus. More than 140 American Indian and Alaska Natives have been selected as delegates and six Indian leaders are serving on committees for the event.

Obama is slated to accept his party's nomination during a speech at the INVESCO Field as the convention ends on Thursday.

Relevant Documents
David Gipp at DNC | More Speeches

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