'Prez on the Rez' hailed as historic event

Tribal leaders and Indian advocates say the upcoming "Prez on the Rez" presidential forum will put Indian issues in the national spotlight.

American Indians and Alaska Natives make up less than 1 percent of the U.S. population. But they are significant segment in key states like California, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota and Montana, and they have the power to sway elections.

"We do have a little bit of cash, too," added Mary Ann Andreas, the vice chairwoman of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, told Gannett News Service.

The Morongo Band is hosting the August 23 forum, which is being organized by Kalyn Free, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. "Unfortunately, Indian Country has been overlooked in the past," Free said. "We shouldn't be an afterthought."

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) has already confirmed. Arlan Melendez, the chairman of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony in Nevada, is lobbying the other candidates to attend.

"This election is going to be a close election," Melendez told Gannett. "Indian Country will play a vital role in how that turns out."

Get the Story:
'Prez on the Rez' event hailed as historic landmark (Gannett News Service 5/7)

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

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