Obama adopted into the Crow Nation

Obama adopted into the Crow Nation

( – promoted by navajo)

Cross posted at Daily Kos.

Barack Obama was formally adopted into the Crow Nation today — and given the name “One Who Helps People Throughout the Land.”

I was shocked (although I shouldn’t have been) to learn that he is the first presidential candidate who has ever visited the reservation of the Crow Nation, located in the state of Montana.

In a speech given yesterday, he made strong promises to address historic and present wrongs, and promised to bring improvements in both health care and education to America’s reservations:

The visit was meaningful, said Darrin Old Coyote, a member of the tribe who wore an elaborate headdress. “To have us left out all these years, and then for him to come here, it shows respect, and it makes us optimistic,” Old Coyote said.

The visit also had political value for Obama. The members of the Crow Nation vote as “a close knit bloc,” Old Coyote said. “Now that Senator Obama is part of the family, that is where we will go.”

The Billings Gazette gave some specific details of how Obama intended to address U.S. relationships with the tribes, including his commitment to having a Native American policy advisor on staff and “to holding an annual summit to ensure tribal needs are met.”

Obama talked about understanding what it is like to be viewed as an outsider from mainstream society and to struggle financially.

“I want you to know that I will never forget you,” he said.

The United States government cannot undo wrongs against Indian peoples, he said

But they can elect a president committed to do what’s right for Native Americans.

“And since now I’m a member of the family you know I won’t break my promises to my brothers and sisters.”

I’ve read discussion here and there about native people’s interest in Obama, given that he is from Hawaii. Beyond the powerful symbolism of his candidacy, it seems he has both a genuine concern for marginalized people, and an unerring ability to convey that concern.

Those who argue that Obama isn’t a “real American” perhaps need a lesson in just who the “real Americans” are.


  1. I have been so swamped that I couldn’t blog this.

    This very important diary certainly belongs front and center at Native American Netroots, which is just a baby right now.

  2. The next door tribe, Cheyenne, endorsed Clinton but Crows are bigger so Obama counted coup! Skins are the swing vote in Montana so politicians pay attention to them during elections. Indins List has made some endorsements, I’ll post their email.

  3. I tried to post her whole email but the pictures didn’t post. CC

    INDN’s List Endorses
    First Six Candidates of the 2008 Cycle!

    Denise Juneau, Kevin Killer, Todd Gloria,
    Joey Jayne, June Lorenzo, and Laverne Wyaco

    Quick Links

    Sign Up!

    Dear INDN Friend:

    We are thrilled to announce our first six endorsed candidates of 2008!  We are excited to have so may qualified candidates to support this early in the cycle, we know that Denise, Kevin, Todd, Joey, June and Laverne will work hard and will be victorious in their upcoming primaries and in November.

    Denise Juneau, an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes, is seeking the office of Superintendent of Public Intruction in Montana.  We are proud to have such an impressive candidate for statewide office, especially because she attended our 2007 Campaign Camp.  We are certain she will help the children of Montana with her leadership and experience. Help her win her race by supporting her campaign today!

    Kevin Killer, an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, is a candidate for the State House of Representatives District 27 in South Dakota.  Kevin also attended the 2007 INDN Campaign Camp, where our entire staff and trainers from across the country paid attention to this young rising star.  He has organized for many progressive campaigns, and we’re sure his experience will pay off in his own race.  Support Kevin’s campaign by donating today!

    Todd Gloria is running for the San Diego City Council and is an enrolled member of the Tlingit-Haida Tribes of Alaska.  Todd truly cares about San Diego, and he has spent many years working for the neighborhoods there, including serving on the Board of Commissioners of the San Diego Housing Commission.  He is a dedicated community activist, and we know he will represent San Diegans with passion and diligence.  Support Todd’s campaign today!

    Joey Jayne, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, is currently serving as a Montana State Representative and is running for State District Court Judge in 2008.  She has practiced law in state, federal, and tribal courts and founded the Joey Jayne Law Office in Arlee, Montana, in 2000.  Joey will bring years of legal experience to the State District Court, and we’re proud to endorse her.  You can help her by supporting her campaign today!

    June Lorenzo is running for New Mexico State Senate District 30 and is a member of Pueblo of Laguna.  June was born and raised on the territory of the Laguna Pueblo and continues to be of service to her Native community.  She brings a wealth of experience to her race, including serving as a tribal court judge and as Counsel for the American Indian Law Alliance (AILA).  You can support June’s campaign by mailing a check to her at P.O. Box 746, Laguna, NM 87026.

    Laverne Wyaco, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, is a candidate for the New Mexico State Senate District 4.  Laverne was born in Rehoboth, within the bounds of District 4, and has been a long time community worker, dedicating her life to giving back to the community in which she lives.  We know she will continue to work hard for her neighbors in the State Senate.  Help Laverne by donating to her campaign today!

    Since our founding 3 years ago, we have experienced an impressive 79% win rate, with 22 of 28 of our endorsed candidates winning in 2006 & 2007!  With your help, we can do even more.  We can help the good candidates listed above and many more throughout this election year.  Thank you for your support.


    Kalyn Free


  4. Kalyn Free has a good website about her organization. She’s a good friend, Obama supporter and Superdelegate. Frank LaMere is also an old friend of mine and also supports Obama, I don’t know Margarett yet. CC

    INDN Delegates Help Select the Best Presidential Candidate

    In 2008, American Indians made historic strides in local democratic conventions across the country. As a DNC at-large member, I have the privilege of serving as a superdelegate at the 2008 national convention this coming August in Denver. Superdelegate and friend of INDN’s List Frank LaMere (Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska) will join me and Superdelegate Margarett Campbell (Assiniboine) at the convention, where we will join Indians from across the U.S. to make history.

    As the only three American Indian superdelegates, Margarett, Frank and I will work to amplify the voice of Indian Country and help select the best Democratic presidential candidate for all of us. Together with all American Indian delegates, “We will,” in Frank’s words, “have an opportunity to tell those leaders how things could and should be in Indian Country.”

  5. I met Kevin at YearlyKos in Chicago.

    I sent him an email to join our blog. He must have missed it.

    Will send another invite.

    It is wonderful to have up close and personal handshakes with our peeps.

    I love this list you have posted.

  6. I am hoping desperately Obama is not just politician, and an actual human being of his word.

    I like that he used the word “Summit”; a word that belies his recognition of dealing with a Sovereign Nation, rather than just a PAC or interest group. It belies respect.

  7. this is from “Indian Country Today”
    Posted: May 23, 2008
    by: Rob Capriccioso

    WASHINGTON – Despite strong enthusiasm for Sen. Hillary Clinton in some areas of Indian country, Sen. Barack Obama has locked up the Native superdelegate vote in the Democratic race for president.

    Laurie Weahkee, an organizer with the Sacred Alliance for Grassroots Equality Council in New Mexico, has joined Kalyn Free, founder of the INDN’s List political organization, and Frank LaMere, chairman of the Democratic National Committee’s Native American Caucus, in vowing to cast a vote for the senator from Illinois at the Democratic National Convention to be held in Denver in August.

    A fourth American Indian superdelegate, Montana state Rep. Margarett Campbell, has said privately that she is supporting Obama, but she can’t officially endorse him until after Montana holds its primary on June 3, in accordance with state party rules.

    American Indians account for four out of the roughly 800 total superdelegates in the Democratic Party. Superdelegates are party insiders and officials who are seated automatically at the Democratic National Convention. They are not selected based on results from state party primaries and caucuses, nor is their support bound by state election results. They are free to support any candidate for their party’s nomination.

    LaMere, a member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, is believed to be the longest-serving American Indian superdelegate, having been involved on the national political scene for some 20 years. He first served as a superdelegate in 1996 and again in 2000 and 2004, but the position has never held much prominence until this year.

    ”Obama speaks to my hope that things will be better in our communities and among our Indian nations,” he said. ”The question I asked myself before I made the endorsement was, ‘We can win, but can we change things?’ It is my hope and feeling that Barack Obama is going to give Indian country its best crack at change.”

    He spoke personally with Obama on a number of occasions prior to making his official endorsement, most notably during the Iowa caucuses Feb. 5. At that time, LaMere told Obama it was important for him to ”focus on Indian issues and the need to get Indian support.”

    ”Obama has taken a number of steps to reach out to Indian country, and he plans to continue to do so between now and November,” he said, adding that he believes the senator will tap several Indians to serve in the White House if he is elected in November.

    The Winnebago political activist also said he firmly believes that Indian country needs a ”New Deal,” similar to the series of proposals President Franklin D. Roosevelt helped usher in to aid the U.S. during and after the Great Depression.

    ”It is time to rethink our approaches to changing things. Right now, there’s an atmosphere in this political process where change is talked of, but then we end up seeing business as usual.”

    Free, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, was appointed as a superdelegate by DNC Chairman Gov. Howard Dean in 2005. She has served on the DNC since 2004.

    ”Sen. Obama is inspiring a whole new generation of people to become politically active,” Free said. ”They’re really getting engaged as full participants in the process – whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, that’s a good thing for democracy.”

    Free has also personally spoken with Obama about his commitment to Indian issues.

    ”Having him as a party standard bearer is going to do great things in race relations – not just around the world, but within America as well,” she said. ”I am confident that he will be a great president for Indian country.”

    Obama has told Free that he is aware and supportive of the work of INDN’s List, which strives to recruit, train and fund Indian candidates and staff, while also mobilizing the Indian vote throughout the nation.

    It was somewhat difficult for Free to choose between Obama and Clinton, especially since she served in President Bill Clinton’s administration under Attorney General Janet Reno as a senior counsel on Indian resources. She noted that Bill Clinton’s administration did many positive things for Indians, and she believes that Sen. Clinton would be able to make strides as well.

    In the end, though, Free believes Obama will be able to do more.

    ”I have a tremendous amount of respect for both President Clinton and Sen. Clinton,” Free said. ”But I also have a long-term objective in building the Democratic Party. … There are more than two families that can run this country.”

    LaMere, too, said the decision between Obama and Clinton was difficult.

    ”What really tipped the balance for me was that we had an opportunity through the ’90s with a Democratic administration, headed by Sen. Clinton’s husband, and I had to ask myself, ‘Have things changed in Pine Ridge from 1992 to now?’ I think everybody knows that answer. We need a different approach.”

    Weahkee, meanwhile, has had much less time as a superdelegate than LaMere, Free and Campbell to make up her mind to support Obama over Clinton. The Zuni/Cochiti/Navajo voter registration advocate was only recently selected by the New Mexico Democratic Party to serve as an add-on superdelegate for the state. She beat out another Native woman, Charlotte Little of Taos, by a 71 – 59 vote.

    By the time she became a superdelegate, Weahkee said she believed it to be ”rather unlikely” that Clinton could catch Obama in pledged delegate count, and she expressed a desire for the Democratic Party to stop its infighting and to begin its battle in earnest against presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.