Bad News for Indian Country: INDN’s List Closes

How does the American Indian improve his life today?  If he’s not completely strapped down by the terrible conditions of most of our reservations he or she would get involved with politics.

That’s how we change things.

It was good for us that groups like INDN’s List existed to help elect American Indians to public office. Today we received the news that INDN’s List is going to shut down.

Native American Netroots is deeply saddened to lose this important group.

More below:

My email notification:

In 2005, many of you joined in my dream and vision of building an organization to recruit, train, support and elect American Indians to public office across America.  Some of you volunteered countless hours, some gave thousands of dollars and others the proverbial widow’s mite, some shared your expertise at our INDN Campaign Camps, one made a quilt while others generously bid on it, and hundreds of you sent encouraging words of inspiration and prayed for our candidates and staff.

As we say goodbye to another year, we also say goodbye to INDN’s List.  I am deeply saddened to tell you that INDN’s List is closing our doors.  In 2009 and 2010, I personally financially supported INDN’s List and paid most of our overhead and salaries.  Regrettably, we have simply been unable to expand our donor base beyond a handful of visionary tribes, unions and individuals.  And, the tribes who supported us in our first four years just did not come through these last two years.

Because of you, in the last six years, INDN’s List has achieved tremendous success.  We helped American Indians win 63 elections.  Prior to this election cycle, we won 70% of our races.  We helped an American Indian woman win statewide office in Montana, helped Indians win office in several chambers where they had never served, helped bring more Indians into office than at any point in history and were instrumental in holding caucuses on reservations for the first time in a presidential primary in Nevada.

Equally as important, INDN’s List trained hundreds of volunteers, staff and candidates and cast a bright spotlight on the dearth of Indians serving in public office.  I have always said, “Little Indian boys and girls cannot be what they cannot see.”  I am most proud that INDN’s List played a role in giving future generations of Indian children concrete examples of what they can be.

The Republican onslaught took out so many of our excellent office holders and candidates.  Sadly, INDN’s List will not be around to help Indians regain the ground we have lost.  Even with our major losses, Indians are more represented today than we were six years ago.

This would not be true without the generous support of several tribes, labor unions, organizations and individuals. Among the most faithful of our supporters are:

Governor Howard Dean * Congressman Mike Honda * Senator Al Franken * Senator Michael Brown * Chairman Gus Franks * Vice Chairman Glynn Crooks * Chairman Robert Martin * Councilwoman Mary Ann Andreas * Chief Jim Gray * Chairman Ron Allen * Councilman Bill John Baker * Councilwoman Cara Cowan Watts

Jim Adelman * Sam Alexander * Sandra Beasley * Richard Bell * Lorene Bishop * Carma Lee Brock * Steve Bruner * Jessa Bush * Lori Cain * Anne Caprara * Rob Capriccioso * Lawrence Crooks * Brian Daffron * Ada Deer * Lindsay Earls * Tom Farris * Susan Filbert * Peggy Flanagan * Jim and Sally Frasier * Andy Frye * John Gaines * Todd Goodman * Lisa Gover * Louis Gray * Faye Hadley * Dennis Hall * Willie Hardacker * LaDonna Harris * Laura Harris * David Harrison * Joan and Ken Hilterbrand * Robert Holden * Adam Holmes * Gordon Holmes * Representative Chuck and Stephanie Hoskin * Megan Hull * Patricia Ireland * Somelea Jackson * John Jameson * Marlene Jones * Dana Jim * Woody Kaplan * Micah Kordsmeier * George Krumme * Celinda Lake * Frank Lamere * Barbara Lee * Bob Lemon * Representative Al McAffrey * Jason McCarty * Luckie McClintock * Tammy McCullar * Dorthy McGill * Theresa McMillan * Brad Miller * David Ocamb * Dave Parker * Jodi Rave * Bill and Rose Ann Risenhoover * Joan Rogin * Susan Rowe * Courtney Ruark * Laura Sanders * Charles Siegel * Marty Smith * Dane Strother * Ronda Talley * Andy Tobias * Mark Trahant * Frosty Troy * Jennifer Vanderheide  * Merv Wampold * Mary Beth Williams * Vickie Winpisinger * Sherilyn Wright

Forest County Potawatomi * Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community * San Manuel Band of Mission Indians * Muckleshoot Indian Tribe * Tulalip Tribes * Chickasaw Nation * Cherokee Nation

IBEW  * NEA  *  UAPP  *  TWU  * USW  * IBT * SEIU * AFL-CIO * Democracy for America * EMILY’s List * Native American Times * Indian Country Today * 21st Century Democrats * Wellstone Action

The past six years have been extremely challenging and deeply rewarding.  I will always cherish the memories of watching Claudia Kauffman take her oath of office to become the only Indian woman serving in the Washington Senate, and Al McAffrey become the first openly gay man elected to the Oklahoma House, and Chuck Hoskin be the standard bearer for Indian Country both in Oklahoma and across the nation, and helping elect Denise Juneau as the first Indian woman to hold statewide office in Montana and Barbara McIlvaine Smith as the first Indian in the Pennsylvania House.

My dream of seeing the first Indian woman in Congress, an Indian Governor and ultimately an Indian President lives on.  They are all out there, somewhere.  And maybe, just maybe, INDN’s List has helped show them the way.  

I have been deeply blessed and honored to have your support throughout these last six years.

In deepest gratitude and admiration,

    Yakoke, *

Kalyn Free

   Kalyn Free

   President, INDN’s List

* “Thank You,” in Choctaw.

PS: If you need to contact any of us, here is our new contact information:

Kalyn Free

[emphasis mine]

We needed this group, now what are we going to do?

This is terrible.

American Indian Candidates

( – promoted by navajo)

Congress passed legislation in 1924 which gave all American Indians citizenship. While citizenship should imply the right to vote, the states often imposed barriers to allowing Indians to vote. In some instances they ignored-or simply pled ignorance of-the fact that Indians were citizens.

A combination of factors-restricting voter registration, gerrymandering, discouraging Indians from voting (including intimidation)-make it difficult for Indians to get elected to public office. At the present time there are Indian running in several states. The diary below mentions a few of them.  

Arizona:

Freshman lawmaker Chris Deschene (Navajo) has won the Democratic nomination for the office. In the general election Dechene will face Republican Ken Bennett who assumed the position when Jan Brewer was elevated to governor.

Oklahoma:

At the present time, Oklahoma is the only state where there are more Republican Indians serving in the legislature than Democrats.  There are twelve Republicans in the House and seven Democrats.  There are three Democrats in the Senate. This year there are a number of Democratic Indian candidates supported by INDN’s List running for office in Oklahoma.

Jeff Jones (Osage) is running for District Attorney against a right wing State House member. None of Oklahoma’s 27 District Attorneys at the present time are tribal members. Jones was a member of the Teamsters Union. He got his law degree by going to law school at night.

Steve Burrage (Choctaw) was appointed State Auditor and Inspector in July 2008 and is now running for election. In accepting the appointment, he said, “I want the State Auditor’s Office to be the best auditing firm in Oklahoma.” He immediately set work to accomplish this benchmark. Steve has conducted audits that have prosecuted felons and saved the state of Oklahoma hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Maya Torralba (Kiowa) is challenging an incumbent Republican in District 56. A champion of progressive causes, she completed the 2007 INDN Campaign Camp.

Ken Luttrell (Cherokee) represents one of the most Republican districts in Oklahoma currently held by a Democrat. Republicans are committed to defeating him. Luttrell is a former member of the Communications Workers of America Union and serves on the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators.

Cory Williams (Cherokee) was elected to the state legislature (District 34) by 63 votes in 2008. He is currently running for reelection in one of the toughest State House races in Oklahoma. Republicans  used smear tactics and dirty tricks to try to beat him two years ago in one of the nastiest races in Oklahoma and they are will stop at nothing to try to defeat this progressive champion in November.

Nevada:

In 2000, John Oceguera was elected to the Nevada State Legislature as Assemblyman for District 16 in Southeast Las Vegas. The voters in District 16 have returned John to office every two years since that time. At the present time, John Oceguera is on track to become the next speaker of the house. He is being challenged by a republican and needs our support. He has been endorsed by INDN’s list.

South Dakota:

The top law enforcement person in the state is the Attorney General, an elective position. At the present time an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Ron Volesky, is running for this office.  

Arizona’s Secretary of State

( – promoted by navajo)

In Arizona, the number two person in state government is the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State becomes governor if the governor is unable or no longer wants to serve. This has happened a number of times in Arizona history.

The race for Arizona Secretary of State is particularly interesting this year. The challenger is Chris Deschene, an enrolled member of the Navajo tribe.  

Education is one of the concerns on the minds of Arizona voters. The Republican incumbent takes the standard “no increased taxes” anti-education approach. Deschene, on the other hand, sees education as investment in the state’s future. He has promised to review the state’s corporate-tax loopholes and close those first. This is an approach which is offensive to the Republicans’ corporate base.

As the grandson of a World War II Navajo Codetalker, Deschene worked hard to obtain an appointment to the United States Naval Academy. He graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and served for ten years as an infantry and special forces reconnaissance officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served two tours overseas in the Middle East and Southeast Asia and acted as Executive Officer for his reconnaissance company, leading more than 160 Marines. He completed his service as a decorated officer with the rank of Major.

After returning to Arizona, Deschene earned both a law degree and a a Masters in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis in renewable and alternative energy development.

Arizona does not have a good record with regard to Indian voting rights. During his campaign for the Arizona House of Representatives, Chris faced a challenge to his nominating petitions that sought to take advantage of contradictions within Arizona’s election laws in order to disenfranchise rural PO Box voters by taking away their right to select and nominate their own candidates. The Secretary of State had the jurisdiction to step in and provide a solution for the discrepancy, but chose not to get involved. Chris didn’t hesitate to take the fight to court and won, protecting the rights of rural voters to participate and nominate their own candidates, regardless of their PO Box addresses.

As State Representative, Deschene sponsored House Bill 2730 which would clarify the PO Box issue and protect voters’ rights as a matter of law. He also sponsored House Bill 2729 which sought to increase and define the technical qualifications for members of the committee who oversee Arizona’s electronic voting machines. HB 2729 recently passed out of the House with unanimous support and will soon be voted on by the Senate on its way to becoming law.

The Republican plan for voting involves the creation of voting centers, a plan which would make it more difficult for rural voters-many Indians in the state live in rural areas-to get to the polls. Deschene has suggested opening weekend polling sites for the rural areas.

While Deschene’s Republic opponent supports Arizona’s illegal-immigration law, Deschene voted against SB 1070. With regard to SB 1070, Deschene says:

“It (SB 1070) does nothing to address border security. It puts our public-safety officers in a no-win situation. And what it really does is hurts our economy.”

While Republicans often talk about their support for small business (translation: large corporations), Deschene has actual small business experience. As co-founder of a successful law practice, he represents tribal and rural communities across the country, working to develop infrastructure for natural and energy resources, providing much needed economic development and jobs in communities that need it most.

For more information about Chris Deschene check out his website.

http://www.descheneforarizona.com

PLEASE MAKE A CONTRIBUTION AT INDN’S LIST TO HELP JOHN IN THIS RACE!

INDNs List logo

American Indians Candidates: Oklahoma

( – promoted by navajo)

When many Indian nations were forcibly removed to what was has become Oklahoma, they were told that no political communities would be established except for those established by the Indians themselves. The state of Oklahoma, however, was not established by the Indians, but by the American settlers. Unlike other western states which have often ignored their Indian heritage, Oklahoma has strongly embraced its heritage and has acknowledged its Indian population.

Oklahoma has elected Indians to public office since it obtained statehood: Robert L. Owen (Cherokee) was elected to the United States Senate and Cherokee tribal attorney and former speaker of the Cherokee House of Representatives James S. Davenport was elected to Congress.

At the present time, Oklahoma is the only state where there are more Republican Indians serving in the legislature than Democrats.  There are twelve Republicans in the House and seven Democrats.  There are three Democrats in the Senate. This year there are a number of Democratic Indian candidates supported by INDN’s List running for office in Oklahoma.  

State Auditor and Inspector:

Steve Burrage (Choctaw) was appointed State Auditor and Inspector in July 2008 and is now running for election. In accepting the appointment, he said, “I want the State Auditor’s Office to be the best auditing firm in Oklahoma.” He immediately set work to accomplish this benchmark. Steve has conducted audits that have prosecuted felons and saved the state of Oklahoma hundreds of thousands of dollars.

State Representative:

Cory Williams (Cherokee) was elected to the state legislature (District 34) by 63 votes in 2008. He is currently running for reelection in one of the toughest State House races in Oklahoma. Republicans  used smear tactics and dirty tricks to try to beat him two years ago in one of the nastiest races in Oklahoma and they are will stop at nothing to try to defeat this progressive champion in November.

Ken Luttrell (Cherokee) represents one of the most Republican districts in Oklahoma currently held by a Democrat. Republicans are committed to defeating him. Luttrell is a former member of the Communications Workers of America Union and serves on the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators.

Maya Torralba (Kiowa) is challenging an incumbent Republican in District 56. A champion of progressive causes, she completed the 2007 INDN Campaign Camp. According to her website:

It is Maya’s personal belief that Native American and Oklahoma values are Progressive values. These include lifting our human brothers and sisters to a higher standard of living; making sure our elders and children live in a safe community; paving a smooth road to educate our future generations; and keeping technology and the environment in a sustainable balance.

http://www.rebuildwithmaya.com/

District Attorney:

Jeff Jones (Osage) is running for District Attorney against a right wing State House member. None of Oklahoma’s 27 District Attorneys at the present time are tribal members. Jones was a member of the Teamsters Union. He got his law degree by going to law school at night.

A Final Note:

Indians have long memories. The forced removed of Indians to Oklahoma was promoted and celebrated by Andrew Jackson, a Democrat. There are some Indians who have never forgiven the Democrats for this. We must continue to show Indian people that Democrats, not Republicans, have their best interests at heart.

PLEASE MAKE A CONTRIBUTION AT INDN’S LIST TO HELP JOHN IN THIS RACE!

INDNs List logo

Native American Netroots Web BadgeCross Posted at Native American Netroots

 An ongoing series sponsored by the Native American Netroots team focusing on the current issues faced by American Indian Tribes and current solutions to those issues.

                red_black_rug_design2

First Indian and Steelworker Wins Statewide in Arizona

( – promoted by navajo)

For the first time in Arizona history, an American Indian candidate has become a major party nominee for statewide office!  INDN’s List endorsed candidate Chris Deschene, a Navajo and former member of the United Steelworkers, won the Democratic Party’s nomination for Secretary of State in a hotly contested race where he was outspent by over $30,000.  

Now Chris moves on to the November 2nd General Election where he faces Ken Bennett, who was appointed to the office in 2009.  If Chris wins in November, he will become the first Indian to serve statewide in Arizona.  Furthermore, in Arizona, the Secretary of State is the state’s second highest executive officer.  Since 1977, Arizona’s Secretary of State moved on to become Governor four times.  Thus, Chris Deschene will be perfectly poised to become the country’s only sitting American Indian Governor!

Chris needs our help to win in November!  Please make a contribution now to help us support Chris in this historic race!

Chris Deschene is living proof that the INDN’s List system of recruiting, training, funding and providing strategic guidance to Indian candidates works!  He attended our “From the Table to the Ticket” training in 2006 where he impressed all of our staff as well as Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA), the Vice Chair of the DNC, who is also supporting Chris.  He won election to the State House in 2008 and is now the Arizona Democratic Party’s first statewide American Indian nominee.

INDN’s List would also like to congratulate endorsed candidates Jack Jackson, Jr. who won his race for Arizona State Senate and Albert Hale who won his race for Arizona State House.

Sac and Fox INDN Candidate Key to Democrats Retaining Chamber in Pennsylvania

( – promoted by navajo)

In 2006 Democrats retook the Pennsylvania State House for the first time since 1994 by one seat. The last and decisive race went to a recount and was won by only 28 votes.This seat was won by INDN’s List endorsed candidate Barbara McIlvaine Smith, a member of the Sac and Fox Nation. She was also the first Indian elected to the Pennsylvania legislature, making her victory vitally important for both the Democratic Party and Indian Country.

Now, Republicans are attempting to retake the House in Pennsylvania and they know they cannot flip the chamber unless they defeat Representative Barbara McIlvaine Smith. So, they’re committed to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars from their special interest friends to beat Barbara.

We need your immediate donation to help us fight back against this onslaught of Republican special interest money!

In the past four years in the legislature, Barbara has fought for a livable wage for all workers, affordable access to healthcare, quality education for all and a healthier, cleaner environment. Additionally, out of 201 legislators, she is one of two who post all legislative expenses online to ensure transparency.

INDN’s List is proud to stand with the first Indian elected to the Pennsylvania legislature and endorses Barbara McIlvaine Smith for reelection.

INDN’s List Announces WA Endorsements

( – promoted by navajo)

INDN’s List is proud to endorse three candidates from Washington State: Senator Claudia Kauffman, Representative John McCoy and Representative Jeff Morris.

Senator Claudia Kauffman

In 2005, INDN’s List was born and we hosted our First INDN Campaign Camp where we brought in a very distinguished group of Indian leaders from across the country to be trained by the top political consultants in the Democratic Party.  In that inaugural class was Claudia Kauffman, a member of the Nez Perce tribe, an extraordinarily talented individual who, with the support of INDN’s List made history by becoming the first American Indian woman elected to the Washington State Senate.

In her first term in office, Senator Kauffman has quickly made a huge impact and taken the lead on issues involving children and education.  As Vice Chair for Early Learning on the State Education Committee, Senator Kauffman brought together parents, professionals and policy makers to examine early learning needs statewide and develop a plan to expand early learning in Washington.  She authored and passed legislation that implemented this plan for all of Washington’s children.

This year, Senator Kauffman faces her first reelection campaign.  INDN’s List is proud to once again endorse Senator Kauffman for State Senate.  Republicans have targeted Senator Kauffman, making her their # 1 target, and are raising massive amounts of money to use against her.  They have even already started their dirty tricks, including a push poll, to defeat her.

Please take a moment to visit Claudia Kauffman’s website, learn more about her campaign, and make a donation to help her fight back against these dishonest attacks!

All donations prior to August 17th count as primary donations and not general election donations, so it is vital to donate now if you plan on making the maximum impact on her race.

Representatives John McCoy and Jeff Morris

INDN’s List is proud to once again endorse Representative John McCoy and Representative Jeff Morris for Washington State House.  We have endorsed these candidates since INDN’s List was founded, and they have both risen to great leadership posts nationally and in the Washington State House.

Representative Jeff Morris, a member of the Tsimshian Indian Nation, is running for his eighth term in office.  He is currently the Speaker Pro Tempore of the Washington State House, the second highest officer of the chamber.  He is also the Chair of the Council of State Governments, West.  Jeff is being challenged by a Republican for reelection. 

Representative John McCoy, a member of the Tulalip Tribe, is running for his fifth term in office.  He is current Chair of the House Technology, Energy and Communications Committee.  He is also Chair of the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators.  John is being challenged by a Republican for reelection. 

In Washington State, all money raised prior to August 17th counts as a primary contribution and not a general election contribution.  This allows organizations, like INDN’s List, to “max out” to candidates before August 17th and then “max out” again after August 17th. 

Please contribute now to help INDN’s List “max out” to our endorsed candidates twice, doubling our financial impact on their races!  

Join INDN’s List on Facebook and Twitter

( – promoted by navajo)

INDN’s List has worked on 45 winning campaigns for American Indian candidates across the nation and significantly increased voter turnout throughout Indian Country over the past five years.  We are working daily with candidates to win this November and working with our partners to help increase turnout in Indian Country.  But there’s more that we can do.

That’s why INDN’s List has created a comprehensive social media plan to engage American Indians across the country and reach out to people who have not participated in the political process.  

But we need your help!

Please  join us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/indnslist) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/indnslist).  On Facebook, after liking our page (at the top), please  suggest our page (under the picture) to your friends and family.  On Twitter, after following us, please take a moment to send a tweet out asking your friends and family to follow us as well.

Social media will help us better communicate with our supporters.  We want you to not just join our Facebook page and Twitter page but more importantly to join the conversation.  Let us know what is going on in your community.  Share your ideas for what we can do to help more American Indian candidates and increase the Democratic vote up and down the ballot.  Help us reach out to your social network.

Thank you for your time and your help!  Together, we can help make a real difference for Indian Country!

Netroots Nation Star Quilt – All My Relations

( – promoted by navajo)

Photobucket

Two hundred signatures from the 2008 Netroots Nation in Austin, TX.  Four signatures from noted Native American bloggers:

Dengre

Photobucket

Winter Rabbit

Photobucket

Speaks Lightning

Photobucket

Meteor Blades

Photobucket

A coin of rutilated quartz decorates the center:

Photobucket

And sixty-eight Austrian crystals decorate the field.  They give a subtle twinkle to the whole.  

Some more sigs:

Photobucket

This quilt is intended to generate online donations for INDN’s List, an organization that supports Native American candidates for public office.  We are still figuring out the logistics of how this will work – but in the meantime, you can donate to INDN’s List here.