It has been a long election season. And as I sit on the eve of the 2008 vote, I wonder, like so many millions of Americans, what will become of us tomorrow? We have seen and endured so much!
A Native elder from Nebraska once said that, “The eagle that sits atop the staff from which hangs this country’s symbol of justice and democracy, that is my lawyer. That is the interceder between humankind and the Creator of all things.” I think of that as I offer prayers tonight for the republic and for us all, and as I reflect about our flag and what it means for Indian people and for all Americans.
Much has happened over the last eight years causing me to question my faith in the political system and in the leaders who have seemingly forgotten their role in the public trust. That was, until a man from Illinois stepped forward and had the nerve to talk about change. He changed the face of politics and gave hope new meaning. Not just for me, but for all. He has brought us this far, and I offer that we must continue in our work.
I was honored during this campaign to be a superdelegate and to support this man, Barack Obama, when his nomination was far from certain. As a Native American, I was privileged to chair the Native Caucus at the national convention, and to impart to those gathered, my thoughts on the responsibility we have to give voice to all of the people, through this political process. I reminded all that someone will pay our way to enter the voting booth, and that many of our young men and women will remain in harm’s way even as we cast a ballot. We talked of service and sacrifice and our responsibility to the country and to the future.
Through it all I remained mindful that if we were to again capture and secure those tenets and traditions that are America, those that set us apart from the rest of the world, that we would have to find a leader who could take us there. That person remains Barack Obama.
During the long days of this political odyssey the American people have painfully come to know that it is easy to pull people apart. Old attitudes, old ideas and old notions can stand in the way of reason, and can cause us, as a country, to get stuck. It is hard to bring people together, and few will choose that hard road, as it requires discipline, understanding and an even temperament. Barack Obama chose that hard way, as it is the only way out of the mess that we are in. There is a disconnect between the leaders and the people. Obama can bring us together and I will walk with him, as we all must if we are to make a better way for the generations to come.
It is for those generations that we toil and try to conduct our lives. I took my wife, my 16 year old daughter and my 14 year old grandson to the convention with me. I am a Winnebago Indian, my wife a Yankton Sioux, and my grandson is part Winnebago and Comanche. When I meet my Yankton Sioux relatives I thank them for giving me my daughter, and I tell them I will do the best I can for her. When I meet my Comanche relatives I thank them for my grandson and I tell them that I will do the best I can for him. Barack Obama met many on this campaign trail and he promised that he would do the best he could for them. He understands what the Yankton Sioux people have come to know over a hundred generations. Mitakuye Oyasin. We are all related.
Frank La Mere
Sioux City, NE