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Monday, June 15, 2009

Sarah Palin Is a Friend of Native Americans

This is seventh in a series of early articles about Governor Palin as she emerged as a national political figure. It discusses the Native American heritage of her husband Todd and their children and Sarah Palin's interest in the customs and traditions of Native Americans. In the photo below, Sarah Palin is shown participating in a traditional blanket toss, an activity unique to Native American Alaskans.*

Republican Natives react favorably to Palin VP selection

By Rob Capriccioso

Story Published: Sep 5, 2008
Story Updated: Sep 10, 2008

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin enjoyed a traditional blanket toss in Barrow, Alaska June 30. Palin was announced as Sen. John McCain’s Vice Presidential running mate Aug. 29. She is the first female Republican VP candidate in history.

WASHINGTON – As Gov. Sarah Palin worked overtime at the Republican National Convention to make her views better known, Native Republicans began to speak out on their admiration for the governor from Alaska.

“If she and Sen. McCain are elected, it would provide a basis for a stronger Indian policy,” said W. Ron Allen, a member of the American Indians for McCain Coalition and chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.

“McCain has a strong background in Indian country and understands it quite well. … and she has familial and Alaska Native insights that I think enhance the ticket’s commitment to tribes.

”Palin, the first female Republican vice presidential candidate is married to Todd Palin, who is of Yup’ik Eskimo descent. Their five children are also of Alaska Native heritage.

“I am delighted by her selection,” said Jana McKeag, a co-chair of American Indians for McCain Coalition who attended the convention. “I think she brings a fresh face to the party, and she’s a go getter. She’s always looking at how to fix things. And we still have a lot of things out there in Indian country that need to be fixed.”

Added McKeag, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma: “We need strong leadership for this country that is familiar with Indian country. Both Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin can hit the ground running.”

Indian supporters of the McCain/Palin ticket said they were pleased to have not one, but two, candidates running from states with large Native constituencies. The senator from Arizona presided over the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee for several years, while Palin leads a state that contains more than 225 of the 560-plus federally-recognized tribes in the U.S.

Talk amongst Indian RNC attendees also centered on tribal history involving President Richard Nixon, whose initiative on Native economic development was operated largely through his vice president’s office.

On specific tribal issues, especially healthcare improvement, Republican Indians were quick to say that McCain and Palin could bring change – and blamed certain Democrats for lack of action in recent times.

GOP attendees of the convention said they see the main holdup to getting the Indian Healthcare Improvement Act passed this year as being Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is not happy with the pro-life provisions of the bill.

McCain has long expressed his support for the reauthorization of IHCIA and insiders with the McCain camp said Palin, too, likely supports the bill.“

peaker Pelosi should get passed politics to see that the bill really helps Native Americans on so many levels,” McKeag said. “I think that’s exactly what Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin would do.”

RNC Indian attendees also said they were happy with Palin’s leadership in her state on rural energy issues and noted her positive relationship with members of the National Congress of American Indians.

When asked if Republicans thought Palin will be an asset in getting out Native voters for the senator from Arizona, Allen said, “It won’t hurt, I can tell you that. I would think that it would strengthen McCain’s platform of tribal self-governance and empowerment. I would perceive that her contribution to the team would strengthen tribes’ perspectives.”

Asked the same question, McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds offered the following statement: “John McCain has a strong record of working with the tribes, and Gov. Palin will be a strong partner in his mission of reforming Washington.”

Despite strong Indian support at the convention, Palin has drawn concern from some Alaska Natives, especially on issues surrounding an initiative to stop development of the Pebble Mine adjacent to the Bristol Bay fishing grounds, which is a prime area for both commercial and subsistence salmon fishing.“

Her public position on that issue undoubtedly had an effect on the defeat of that initiative, an initiative supported by many of the region’s Inupiat and Yup’ik Alaska Natives,” said Carl Shepro, a political science professor at the University of Alaska.

While McKeag and other RNC attendees were confident that Palin could help turn out the Native vote, Shepro and others expressed skepticism.“

I think that Sen. McCain picked her for a couple of reasons, probably neither related to the Indian vote: First, she is very far to the right on social and economic issues and second she is anti-abortion/pro-life and both positions mean she enjoys a great deal of support from the religious right,” he said.

Matt Tomaskin, a member of the Yakama Nation who attended all four days of the Democratic National Convention in Denver, said that Todd Palin is “kind of a distant two degrees from the main line.”

“I think it would be a different story if the governor herself was tribal,” Tomaskin said, adding that he didn’t think the McCain camp purposely picked a vice president who might be attractive to some Native voters.

“It’s probably just an afterthought [for the McCain camp] that her husband is Indian,” Tomaskin said. “To me, it’s a non-issue. I can’t see tribal members running to the polls just because her husband is tribal.”

Palin has talked positively of her husband and children’s heritage in the past. When running for governor in October 2006, she wrote a letter addressed to rural voters, saying she “so very much appreciates Alaska’s First People, their proud heritage and diverse cultures so abundant in the communities throughout our state.”

“I personally feel the language, stories, and traditions of Alaska Native cultures are a national treasure to be nourished and held close to our hearts,” Palin added. “It is our rural lifestyle and diverse cultural heritage that distinguishes Alaska from the rest of the world and makes it our wonderful home.”

She wrote, too, that her family has been “blessed” by learning Yup’ik traditions and stories from Helena Andree, her children’s great-grandmother and a one-time Bristol Bay Native Corporation Elder of the Year. The Palins named their oldest daughter Bristol in honor of the region many of their family members still call home.

Palin also promised to support tribal economic development and fishing subsistence issues, noting that her family has fished commercially in Bristol Bay for decades.

In terms of education policy, Palin said she supports teaching traditional culture and languages in schools. “A strong sense of identity will keep kids in school until they become strong adults equipped to thrive in today’s world,” she wrote.

Also of note, the governor proclaimed June 10-13, 2007 as “National Congress of American Indians Days” in recognition of a conference held by NCAI in Anchorage.

Since the governor’s campaign letter focused on Natives, Shepro said the governor has offered relatively little public comment on tribes. Some Indians and tribal advocates have been critical of her silence, especially given her Native family ties. They also noted that in her two years in office, the governor has not appointed any Native people to high-ranking positions within her administration.

But former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Northern Cheyenne Tribe, thinks that Palin could never have become governor of Alaska without the support of tribal constituencies, which, he said, shows her popularity among Alaska Natives.

“There’s no question in my mind that she will be a great Indian country advocate,” said Nighthorse Campbell, honorary co-chair of the American Indians for McCain Coalition.

*For a description of the blanket toss, see:


Grassroots Webathon to Retire Governor Sarah Palin's Legal Debt

UPDATES w/video below

(NOTE: Conservatives4Palin is the sponsor of this Webathon. Sarah Palin Web Brigade is one of the many independent websites partnering with C4P in the Webathon efforts.)

A grassroots Webathon to retire the legal debt of Governor Sarah Palin will take place from June 15 through June 22. This fundraising effort is sponsored by the Conservatives for Palin (C4P) website, with numerous other websites across the Internet participating as well. Participating websites are displaying an explanatory video and a banner that when clicked opens into the website of the Alaska Trust Fund, the official fund set up for Governor Palin’s legal debt.

To date, approximately $500,000. of legal debt has been incurred by Governor Palin in defending herself and her staff against frivolous, politically-motivated complaints. So far, 14 of these complaints have already been dismissed. Yet her political opponents continue to launch complaints against her in an effort to discredit her, and as some believe, to bankrupt her.

It is the opinion of this author that these so-called “anklebiters” not only want to discredit Sarah Palin, but they want to keep her out of the national political scene as much as possible. Apparently, the liberal left fear Sarah Palin’s potential to defeat Obama in 2012 and are doing everything they can to defeat her chances. It is a known fact that Obama was involved in the “Troopergate” investigation, which is responsible for some of Governor Palin’s legal debt. Kim Elton, who led that investigation, was rewarded with a post in the Department of the Interior.

Never has an ethical, responsible politican been attacked as viciously by political opponents as has Governor Palin. Unlike those of other politicians, even her children have not been considered off-limits. Just this past week, David Letterman attacked Governor Palin’s 14-year-old daughter with a sexual joke. The liberal news media has also had a feeding frenzy over the private affairs of Governor Palin’s 18-year-old daughter.

It is time to put an end to the mistreatment of this incredible woman and her family by the news media and the anklebiters. One of the first steps is to relieve Governor Palin of the cumbersome legal debt that has accumulated due to the attacks, some of them repetitive, by the anklebiters. That is what this Webathon is all about.

Please give your most generous donation to this worthy cause. There is a banner as well as a video on this site and at 3 of our other sites, including Sarah Palin Web Brigade’s Ning site at http://sarahpalininternetcoalition.ning.com/. Please help us show Governor Palin how much we appreciate her strong leadership in the face of all the attacks that have been launched against her.

A new star in the Republican Party stepped out on that stage at the 2008 Republican convention and delivered a speech that reminded some, including his son Michael, of Ronald Reagan. Sarah Palin has the integrity, communication skills, and star power of Reagan, and that alone was enough to alarm her political foes. They have come against her with a vengeance because they know her potential. But Governor Palin’s star still shines brightly, and she has a large, devoted base of supporters willing to be her foot soldiers and fight back against the lies and the smears. This Webathon is just such a coordinated effort and will surely not be the last.

For more information, see the Conservatives4Palin website.

UPDATE: Tuesday's(June 16) Webathon Video:

Sarah Palin supporters across the Internet are partnering with Webathon sponsor, Conservatives for Palin (C4P),to raise funds to retire Governor Palin's legal debt incurred by defending herself and her staff against frivolous complaints filed against her by anklebiters. On June 15, the first day of the grassroots Webathon, $54,645. was raised. Way to go, Sarah supporters! And a warm thank you to all those who donated!

UPDATE: Wednesday's (June 17) Webathon Video:

Day 2 ended with $82,860 being raised by the Webathon. This is 17% of our goal, so this is great progress.

UPDATE: Thursday's (June 18) Webathon Video:

Total contributions to the Webathon at the end of Day 3 were $92,205., or 18% of the projected goal. Almost $100,00! This is even more significant because of the $150upper limit on an individual contribution.

Another bit of news today: Team Sarah, which amassed a large membership during the 2008 election and beyond, has joined the Webathon effort. A number of the independent websites that are participating in the Webathon are run by people who are also members of Team Sarah. However, Team Sarah itself's effort will apparently be run from their own website.

UPDATE: Friday (June 19) Webathon video:

Day 4 ended with total contributions of $100,000., an impressive show of support from grassroots supporters of Governor Palin. C4P reports that there were many donations of $5. and $10. – people giving what they could to help the governor defend herself against the anklebiters. All donations are welcome, as they show a heartfelt sipport for this incredible leader gifted to America by way of Alaska.

UPDATE: Saturday (June 20) At the end of Day 5, $105, 560., or 21 %,of Governor Palin's legal debt that was incurred due to anklebiter complaints had been raised by the grassroots Webathon sponsored by Conservatives for Palin and participated in by websites across the Internet community that support Sarah Palin. This is the first coordinated effort by Sarah Palin supporters across the Internet community, a virtual Internet army ready to mobilize again and again on behalf of Governor Palin.

This amusing video was posted on the C4P website this morning:

UPDATE: Sunday (June 21) Day 6 of the grassroots Webathon ended with total donations of $109.620, or 22% of the at least $500,000. legal debt incurred by Governor Palin due to defense against anklebiter complaints. Today is the last day of the current Webathon, and many have given up to the $150. yearly limit on individual donations to this fund. In January, a new year begins, and there will be another opportunity for those who maxed out this year to contribute again to help Governor Palin defend herself against these politically-motivated attacks.

Posted on the C4P website this morning is an excellent video about where Governor Palin stands on the issues:

UPDATE Monday (June 22) The 2009 Grassroots Webathan has now ended. A total of $115,585. was donated to the Alaska Fund Trust during this effort. Considering the individual yearly contribution limit of $150., this is no small achievement. This is the first coordinated effort of Sarah Palin supporters across the Internet in support of Governor Palin. Sarah's army of supporters on the Internet has begun to march and will not stop until Sarah Palin is our next President!