Betting On Themselves

Native Americans have long been a reliable part of the
Democratic base. But despite their party loyalty, and many tribes’
newfound gambling wealth, there are precious few Native
officeholders anywhere outside tribal lands.

That may be about to change. The Indigenous Democratic Network
List (INDN’s List), a group organized to recruit and train Indian
candidates for local and state offices, held its first ‘Campaign
Camp’ in October at a tribal casino near Minneapolis.

INDN’s List was founded by Kalyn Free, an Oklahoma attorney,
Democratic activist, and Choctaw, after losing a race that would
have made her the first Native woman in Congress. Free modeled the
group after EMILY’s List, an influential feminist fundraising
organization that supported her campaign. ‘This has been a dream of
mine for more than a dozen years,’ she told

Indian Country Today
.

When Free announced INDN’s List last February she told The
Washington Post
she was tired of the Democrats’ approach to
tribes. ‘I’m sick of the [Democratic National Committee] treating
Indians like an ATM machine that has to be courted every couple of
years,’ she said.

In 2006, INDN’s List will focus on state and local races, and is
working with legislative candidates in Montana, New Mexico, and
Arizona.

Free’s efforts are already gaining attention from some powerful
Democrats. Free was appointed to the Democratic National Committee
earlier this year, and DNC Chairman Howard Dean spoke at the
October meeting, as did comedian and radio host Al Franken and
several members of Congress.

‘You, as future candidates, future organizers, and future
leaders hold the key to the future of your communities,’ Dean told
the crowd. ‘Together, if we show up, stand up for what we believe
in, and encourage American Indian candidates, we can move our
country forward.’
Leif Utne

Go there >>
INDN’s
List Seeks Native Candidates

Go there too >>
INDN’s
List Gives Dean Crash Course on Issues

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