Thursday, April 14, 2011

Should First Nations People Vote?

Dan Waters is a snarky 22 year old queer biracial wonderment who is part White, Portuguese, and Native American (Wampanoag-Kiowa). He currently lives in Massachusetts, and plans to become a Lawyer. That is, if he can survive Algonquin language classes and polyamorous dating right now! He also identifies as Two Spirit, and prefers male pronouns, but cherishes his female body that he was given graciously by the Creator. He blogs at Identity Exposure.

So, I have been seeing the Tweet-o-sphere a blowing up on all ends about Canada’s election. Some of it is about not voting at all, others are pro-vote, and most recently, I came across this: Yvon Levesque is being called a racist for saying that NDP Candidate Romeo Saganash’s Cree ancestry is a liability.

The liability, being, voters won’t vote for him because he’s Cree. Let me say it again: Levesque didn’t tell people to NOT vote for Saganash, just that, voters are racist.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I asked around and Levesque is a conservative and probably a racist as well. But this statement? Doesn’t make him a racist. It shows that he knows what voters want: a white guy. This isn’t exactly enough to make me say “That’s racist”. In fact, the NDP’s reaction statement seemed more color-blind-racist, because it basically denied the fact that most of Canada is in fact racist, or that it could be possible that there is discrimination from voters on the basis of race.

Should he have been the one to call out voters? Maybe not, because he himself is probably a racist. However, the fact that he said it flat out instead of John McCain and Sarah Palin’s long, drawling “REAL Americans will vote for a HARD WORKING, SIMPLE, PERSON THAT IS LIKE THEM” [Insert blinking neon lights: WHITE, WHITE, WHITE], I have to give him a little credit for that. Don’t worry people, it’s just a teeny tiny bit of credit.

Of course, I am treading on a thin line here. I myself am a US Indian, not a Canadian Indian. The US sees First Nations and dependents upon the US (basically, foster children. Yeah, I said it, folks) while Canada has said in many spaces that they consider First Nations to be in fact separate nations. So the politics are completely different. However, I will share my concern about the NDP toting around Saganash and the banner of “Work Together”. It didn’t take a mixed-blood appointed by Palefaces long to fuck up tribal government last time it happened here (see: Goonsquad, Wounded Knee II). So I am, as always, cautious.

Renee and I had a great discussion, and I wanted to open it up for you guys. On the idea of Native Americans voting (either in America, USA, or South American countries), what do you feel?
Renee made a great point that we (Natives) cannot pretend that government (federal/state/constitutional/etc.) actions don’t affect us. It is a very real fact that they do. However, there is a strong reality that voting areas are conveniently miles away from reservations, and ballots given to reservations are limited in number. Also, many Bureau of Indian Affairs people discourage Native voters, because, hell, they want the good deal that means America wins.

However, I also argue for true sovereignty, and that dealings between First Nations and any other government needs to be just like when [Insert Country] trades, agrees, disagrees, etc with [Insert Another Country]. Politicians like to claim American First Nations as sovereign when we ask for money; however they forget the clause that we’re technically listed as dependents, so it is thus the obligation to give us money. In truth, I would not want to accept any money from a government, since it often ends in backwards deals. But that is just me. And I also do vote. Maybe I am an idealist (cough, hypocrite, cough)? It is entirely possible.

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While this part is unrelated, I just got an alert for it and feel it is pressing enough to shove into a post. The Federal Spending Bill that is expected to pass will be allowing the Rockies to no longer have the endangered species protection onto wolves. That means that any wolves currently in the Rockies will be up for: hunting, gaming, and destruction of dens (that means pups, folks). If you wish to stop this, please take a moment to sign this petition here. Yes, this is a legitimate petition, not a hokey one. Thank you.