Make America beautiful again, that’s what I say. I remember those old advertisements of the Indian guy in the canoe, tear and all. And there was all this pollution, burning rivers and garbage. Ugly. I want it beautiful again. But not just environmental beauty with no smoky skies or poisoned rivers, we want beautiful character and ethics in our society and government.
I want leaders who are not self-serving, lying, or serving foreign companies and countries, and we want them to take care of the little people, those who need champions. In other words, decency, no hatred, walls and fear.
I’m not a Democrat or a Republican. After all, I ran two times for the office of vice president of the United States as a Green Party candidate. That means I don’t really have a dog in this fight; neither party likes a woman like me. But this year, I am weighing in. And I am weighing in on the side of decency and for a return to a democratic process. I’m voting for a world with less conflict, youth in detention camps, gutted environmental and civil rights protections, less hatred, no vote stealing, and fewer forest fires.
First, I am going to ask people to vote. About 700 young people became eligible to vote on the White Earth reservation for this election. November 3 is about your future. It is about what jobs there will be, if we will have our wild rice, if we will be in ongoing crises of climate, police, riots and opioids. It is about ensuring justice, and about having enough for our communities, heat, food and health. This is a vote during a pandemic, a vote when the world is changing, in a country with more cases of COVID than any in the world. This vote is about the future of our America, our water and our people.
Voting is easier than you think
If you have an absentee ballot, you can send it in. Do it. Check your mailbox every day. Because your vote counts, and you don’t want to lose the chance to vote for future generations. Vote and register in person. Early voting is open now, and you can vote at your county court house any time during business hours. If you can vote early, that will likely help protect your voting rights. You can register to vote in Minnesota the day that you vote. You will need a formal identification -- a driver’s license or a tribal ID that has a valid physical address. However, if your tribal ID has a PO Box, bring with you proof of residency indicating the home address. It can be a bill of some sort or housing papers. Skoden.
If you vote on the White Earth reservation, you can vote in your township hall, and get a ride there, or it’s possible that the White Earth tribe will be able to provide polls for voting in the usual places of tribal elections. Vote because there are Native people running for Senate, House, city councils and county commissioner positions in Minnesota. And those people can bring a Native voice to the state.
And, yet some of those native people, despite being tribal members, do not always represent Native interests. That’s complicated. Sadly, many Democratic and tribal politicians lack courage, and are not against Line 3, the $7.5 billion pipeline to nowhere. Only David Suby, running for House 2B against Steve Green, opposes the line. Tribal member Green also has opposed return of land to the White Earth tribe. Sen. Paul Utke, R-Park Rapids, has been in office since 2017, and has introduced 14 bills for the Native community, of which one passed. He is also pro Line 3, while our tribe has opposed the pipeline along with 68,000 other Minnesotans, the Department of Commerce the Attorney General’s office. That’s at a time when the oil industry – especially the most polluting tars sands oil from Alberta, which is targeted for Line 3-- is dying and renewable energy is surging.
My personal opinion? Having a Canadian corporation dictate and influence politics in the U.S. is a problem. The guns they bring will also be a problem. Hatred is ugly. While tribal governments wield significant economic power, politicians do not always pass bills for the benefit of tribes. Our tribe has spoken and demands clean water and wild rice for the future.
Some of us want peace, security and prosperity. That’s the vision of the Green New Deal. That’s the vision of renewable energy, health care for all, small farmers, funded education, organic agriculture, and justice. But the forces at work in the north country are deep. President Trump did not come to Bemidji recently to campaign just to see people with “good genes.” He came because what is happening here in the Deep North matters, because of the long history of Indian-hating, and the end-of- the-road desperation of late-stage capitalism, which is no longer sustainable.
This is a time of incredible change and transformation. Statues of confederates and conquistadors are falling, and we are in the midst of a global pandemic. There is no return to normal, so let’s make this world beautiful by voting for courageous, decent people and the good life. Vote to be beautiful. That’s what we can do on Nov. 3.
This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.