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From the new Schweitzer for President blog:

[Chippewa Cree] tribal council members also had Gov. Brian Schweitzer's ear Tuesday, as he rounded out his tour of Montana reservations. ...

Houle said the tribe had a good discussion with Gov. Schweitzer and members of his Cabinet and staff. Some of the issues that were discussed were a proposed ethanol plant, a shortage of funding for a low- income energy assistance program, and economic development.

Article here.  Analysis on the flip.

Now, I'm not a huge fan of governmental ethanol subsidies.  But Schweitzer's building ethanol plants in order to help low-income workers find better-paying jobs, including Native Americans.  That's something I can get behind.

And this isn't the first time Schweitzer's reached out to the Native Americans in his state.  He is an official member of the Crow Nation and went to see the Blackfeet, to which tribe belongs Schweitzer's new appointee for Chairperson of the Montana Arts Council.  And Schweitzer flew tribal flags over his inaugural ball (he has continued to fly them, in rotation, over the Montana Statehouse).

In an article in the Great Falls Tribune, Schweitzer explained why he sees Native Americans as a major priority of his campaign:

"In just the 90 days I've been in office, the most angry calls I get in the middle of the night are about my close relationship with folks in Indian Country," Schweitzer said. "Some say they wanna shoot my a-- because I'm an Indian lover."

But the governor said he'd rather sit down and talk with Montana's Indian tribes before meeting with the "redneck on the other end of the line."

"I'm your friend. You're my friend. And I won't forget it," Schweitzer said before leaving his four-hour meeting with the Fort Peck tribal council.

He added that he'll never know what it's like to be a Native American in Montana -- to walk into a store and "be watched a little more closely than everyone else." ...

He also encouraged the tribal government to send him the names of the best and brightest tribal members, to be available when positions in state government or with his administration open up. "This will be my permanent legacy," Schweitzer said.

As a Westerner who lives on the edge of the largest Indian reservation in the country (the Navajo), I can tell you that Indians are the Western equivalent of Blacks -- a bedrock Democratic constituency that is so "safe" it is ignored by most Democratic politicians.  This lack of interest in Native American issues on our part has led to some noticeable inroads by Republicans on reservations; for instance, my Congressman, Rick Renzi, won a majority of the votes on the Navajo Reservation in 2004 after winning only 10% in 2002.

So when Schweitzer spends so much time with Native Americans, catering to their needs and representing their interests to the wider community, he's once again trailblazing for Western (and national) Democrats.  He's telling the Indian community that it matters to Democrats and that we will do what's necessary to protect and preserve it.  Our other elected officials would do well to follow Schweitzer's lead.

Originally posted to Nonpartisan on Wed Jun 01, 2005 at 11:40 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This piece is (4.00)
    applicable to Western Democratic politics in general, not just the Draft Schweitzer movement.  I'll continue to cross-post articles from the site that are more broadly relevant, while leaving the strict Schweitzer news to the blog.
  •  Thanks for this (none)
    I voted for him when he was running against Burns. In a way, I think he may be more effective as a Governor than he would have been as a Senator (for Montana anyway).

    I look forward to seeing where his career leads him.

  •  two years is a long time. (none)
    ...until people have to jump in (5/2007).  6 months is a life time these days.

    But right now, Schweitzer and Clark are the best.

    •  And Feingold (none)
      right?

      That's actually my guy after Schweitzer.  I like Clark too, provided he doesn't surround himself with those stupid Clintonistas he had last time.

      •  Yeah Feingold...is great (none)
        shame on me.

        I have to pay better attention.

        And I love it how the right wing says he can't run because of his 2nd divorce, yet they started waving a Newt Flag after his Joint-Hillary news conference, even though Newt's on his 3rd, and this one is with his former mistress!!  Oh, the party of everbody else's morality.

      •  My ideal ticket in 2008,,,,, (none)
        is Feingold and Schweitzer.

        I have been saying this for months.  Being a WI resident, I obviously know much about Russ, and I've done tons of research on Schweitzer since first hearing about him.  Not only do I think these guys would be wonderful for our country, I think the 2 of them on a ticket gives the Democrats country-wide appeal.  

        "But your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore"--Prine Pay attention Georgie - 1600+ dead Americans, 100,000+ dead Iraqis, all on your head. WWJS?

        by Miss Blue on Thu Jun 02, 2005 at 06:33:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Our other elected officials would do well (none)
    to follow Schweitzer's lead...

    That's a statement with which I agree in general.

    "We can win elections only by standing up for what we believe." --Howard Dean

    by Jim in Chicago on Thu Jun 02, 2005 at 12:36:10 AM PDT

  •  Most politicians DO ignore ... (4.00)
    ...Americans Indians as a constituency since we are widely scattered and half or more of the 4 million of us don't live on reservations.

    Schweitzer's outreach efforts are appreciated, as is his symbolism, but if he or any other politician wants to do right by Indians, he needs to deal with the massive injustices still being meted out to Indians, both tribally and individually. Then, if he does get to Washington, he can start to work on the execrable BIA.

    **

    Writing dialog George Lucas so terrible at is. --Yoda

    Visit The Next Hurrah

    by Meteor Blades on Thu Jun 02, 2005 at 12:45:59 AM PDT

    •  He seems to be doing so (none)
      He's already got the Montana Native Americans 3.5 million dollars in funding from the BIA and is basically letting them spend it however they like.  I think Schweitzer is exactly who we need in Washington precisely because he WILL clean up hotbeds of corruption like the BIA.

      And by the way, nice use of the word "execrable". :)

    •  He can deal with BIA (none)
      by working to get rid of that relic of the past and settling the Indian Trust case.

      "Whenever a Voice of Moderation addresses liberals, its sole purpose is to stomp out any real sign of life." - James Wolcott

      by Madman in the marketplace on Thu Jun 02, 2005 at 04:02:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  this really matters (4.00)

    The racism there is against Indians is horrifying.  I saw enough of it in when I lived the Southwest and in Ontario that I never want to see any more of it.  Sadly, it has also broken out from dormancy again here in New England, around the Pequots and Mohicans and Narragansetts in eastern Connecticut and southern Rhode Island, because they now have money and the two casinos.  (Mohican Sun and Foxwoods.)

    I thought that there was nothing that could cause rural Yankees to go into a hysterical panic.  Apparently Indians buying up a couple hundred acres of land and telling white people to get off it is the one thing that does.  The whole arguments and panic and reactionary idiocy that set off in and around Ledyard and Foxwoods casino in '98 and '99 is probably singlehandedly responsible for Rob Simmons hanging on as Republican House Rep.  (He's getting bounced out next year.)

    I'm very glad to hear of this going on in Montana.  It was probably politically fatal to do this kind of thing until '98 or '00, but the climate has changed and I think it wins more votes by admiration and assent from local whites (provided they get dealt with fairly too, of course) than it loses these days.  Schweitzer was close enough to the Montana tribes long before last year, also, and the hardcore racists certainly didn't vote for him.

    At this point this sort of thing is a matter of serious political courage, but it has benefits now.  Incrementally it impresses people that Democrats as a whole are serious, aren't halfhearted or posers or defensive, about their equality principles anymore.  The locals may not like it, may not be able to do so personally, but they are impressed by the heart and mind and soul displayed by it.

    I hope this stuff in Montana is doesn't remain isolated and greater fairness toward Native people spreads.

    Extending the principle is important too.  I hope to see major Democrats likewise go to other seemingly politically hazardous constituencies and treat them as dignified human beings with true creative potential in all respects in public as well as in private.  Gay people, perhaps.  The formerly incarcerated- many of them are also people from racial and gender and religious minorities- are the final frontier, and reenfranchising them of the vote in the many places they are deprived of it is a very neglected cause and matter of equality.

    Renewal, not mere Reform.

    by killjoy on Thu Jun 02, 2005 at 01:14:39 AM PDT

    •  Same here (none)
      We live in CNY, and there are four tribes struggling with land/casino/untaxed sales (gas and cigarettes) issues on reservation land in the state:

      -Onondaga, CNY, just beginning land claim filings and talks.
      -Oneida, CNY, with a casino, and land purchases now disputed as "sovereign" territory.
      -Seneca, WNY, being slammed by Attorneys General and credit card companies over tax-free Internet sales on res land.
      -Mohawk, NNY, who have struggled with serious issues and violence for many years over sovereignity, smuggling, and bingo halls. (Disclosure: I am part Mohawk)

      Now, I believe the US practiced genocide in dealing with Native Americans, and have always stacked the deck in their dealings, as well as consigned them to the worst of the worst of circumstances, often without recourse.

      The BIA is one of the most biased, blatantly inept, and confused bureaus in the history of the US. While there have been some good officials and dealings over the years, there is clearly a pattern of attempts to marginalize Native issues and present a bigoted image of Native people to the public as a whole, consigning First Americans to little more than "losers' and "whiners" who are not due deference, much less respect.

      Yes, I think this is the "white European" predjudice rearing it's ugly head, because to me it's clear that anyone who got in the way of the white expansionists were dismissed out of hand as "savages", and conquered or "converted", and then ignored for the most part. (Disclosure: I am also English, French, and Irish)

      Solutions? I don't have 'em.

      But I do support Native sovereignity completely and recognize the need for frank and respectful discussions with the goals of setting things right for past abuses, and fostering equality and prosperity for present and future Tribal citizens - as if we really believe that "all men" are created equal and therefore should have equal opportunity under the law.

      Theory is when we know everything and nothing works. Practice is when everything works and nobody knows why. (Einstein)

      by CodeTalker on Thu Jun 02, 2005 at 05:57:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Boy am I old. (none)
    I saw the title on the Home page and all I could think of was Albert.

    -- Life is tough: Three out of three die. Now shut up and deal. ~Ring Lardner Jr.

    by Eleftheria on Thu Jun 02, 2005 at 03:25:20 AM PDT

  •  Glad to see this blog exists - I like Schweitzer! (none)
    So glad to see a Schweitzer for President blog!  May you grow and prosper!  I'm not that well informed on Mr. Schweitzer but so far am very impressed with what I see.  And am not impressed with the usual suspects named as Presidential contenders for 2008.  Personally I'm thinking of  a Schweitzer/Obama ticket - I don't think it's far-fetched.  So I'll be keeping an eye on things.  Hurray for western Democrats (from this easterner).
  •  ethanol (none)
    why aren't you into ethanol subsidies?  I used to believe that it was just a waste of money - more energy going in than coming out - but I've since learned that's inaccurate:

    1. The portability of ethanol is an advantage in itself
    2. corn-based ethanol actually is somewhat efficient and not a money-loser
    3. ethanol isn't always corn - other forms of cellulose (like switchgrass; perennial and very easy to grow in the plains states) are extremely efficient

    Seems that subsidizing efforts in those directions are very much something we can get behind if we care about the alternative energy movement.

    Politology.US - Politics and Technology in the United States

    by tunesmith on Thu Jun 02, 2005 at 03:44:04 AM PDT

  •  That's the way it's done ... (none)
    good for him.

    "Whenever a Voice of Moderation addresses liberals, its sole purpose is to stomp out any real sign of life." - James Wolcott

    by Madman in the marketplace on Thu Jun 02, 2005 at 04:04:23 AM PDT

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