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Yellow Bird: Not all Natives are conservative

"I know our culture is different. I know it's not same as that of mainstream America. But you can't go to one tribe in the southwest, learn about them and then come away as an expert on all Indians. In an Aug. 16 editorial comment in the Duluth News Tribune, Rod Van Mechelen said "American Indians should vote for President Bush because we are a conservative people and he is a conservative choice." Van Mechelen is a member of the Cowlitz tribe, a founding member of the Native American Coalition to Re-elect President Bush and delegate to the 2004 Republican National Convention.

My concern is that Van Mechelen's blanket statement implies all Native people are conservative. Here are some of the extreme differences in tribal cultures and land areas: The Navajo Nation in the southwest is different from the Eskimos in Alaska. The Lumbee on the East Coast are different from the Confederated tribes of Siletz on the West Coast, and even the Sahnish in North Dakota are different than the Hidatsa, who live on the same reservation.

There are Indian people who are Republicans, but the majority are Democrats."

Get the Story:
COLUMNIST DORREEN YELLOW BIRD: Politicians show a sad ignorance about Indians (The Grand Forks Herald 8/17)