Native Americans Wield New Political Clout

By Paul Van Slambrouck, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, October 27, 1999 | Go to article overview

Native Americans Wield New Political Clout


Paul Van Slambrouck, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Just as they occupy a unique spot in US history, Indians are carving a path to greater political influence unlike that of any other minority group.

Yet as Indians' level of political activism surges in the late 1990s, their greater involvement in nontribal affairs increasingly worries some native Americans as the seed that could ultimately undermine their cherished sovereignty.

The rise of Indian activism and influence is strongly evident in California, where three native American tribes were among the top 10 contributors to state campaigns in the 1997-98 election, according to data from the California Common Cause.

In addition, Indians here successfully waged the most expensive ballot-initiative campaign in US history last November, winning voter approval for expanded gambling operations on tribal lands. While the courts recently declared the ballot initiative unconstitutional, Gov. Gray Davis quickly hammered out a compromise, one further sign of the Indians' growing clout in the state capital.

Indian political involvement is growing elsewhere, too. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe of Connecticut, for instance, in 1994 gave $500,000 to the Democratic National Committee and $100,000 to the Democratic Parties of California and New York.

In New Mexico, Indian dollars in gubernatorial campaigns grew sharply from the late 1980s to the 1994 and 1998 election cycles. Indian donations aided the successful campaign of Republican Gov. Gary Johnson last November. While Indians are mostly Democrats, Governor Johnson's support for Indian casinos earned him more financial backing, say analysts.

And nationally, Minnesota tribes gave $350,000 to the 1996 Clinton-Gore reelection effort, a move that stirred allegations it was a reward for the rejection of a bid by Indians in Wisconsin to build a competing casino. But no indictments were sought.

Indians' path to power is distinct because it starts with two premises not shared by other minority groups. First, say experts, Indians have historically fought for sovereignty and independence, as opposed to other minorities who seek inclusion within the US system. This sets up a source of conflict that dogs virtually every step Indians take in the political arena. It causes tension within tribes, competition between tribes, and often contentious relationships with the government entities they seek to influence.

Second, because Indians make up less than 1 percent of the population nationally, they place little emphasis on voting as a lever of real influence. This is in sharp contrast to the importance of voting in the quest for greater political clout by African- Americans, Latinos, and even Asian Americans.

But what Indians lack in ballot-box strength, they're making up for with dollars.

Though their numbers and land base in California are relatively small, Indian tribes outspent every other group with donations of $3.6 million in the 1997-98 election. Indians, notes Common Cause director Jim Knox, "have now surpassed the political giving of perennial special-interest powerhouses including California's teachers, trial lawyers, and doctors."

While those who worry about the influence of money in politics may bemoan the inclusion of Indians among the big spenders, others see a separate danger. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Native Americans Wield New Political Clout
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.