For Puyallup Tribal Councilmember David Bean, traveling to Charlotte, N.C. for the 2012 Democratic National Convention was an important opportunity to not only gain insight into the party’s priorities, but also to ensure tribal issues remain at the forefront of the agenda.
“My goal was to meet as many Democratic senators and congressmen and women, and talk to them about tribal issues,” he said. “I also wanted to thank them for their support.”
The administration of President Barack Obama has supported many issues of great importance to the Tribe, including the Tribal Law and Order Act, which helps to address crime in tribal communities, placing a strong emphasis on decreasing violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women.
Obama’s Affordable Care Act also permanently re-authorizes the Indian Healthcare Improvement Act, intended to provide better healthcare for Native Americans.
One of Bean’s major goals was to strengthen relationships and to show solidarity between Washington politicians and tribal communities.
“It’s especially important for us to show support for U.S. Senator Patty Murray,” he said. “As chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, it is so important for us to support her. Now, when she is out there fundraising for her senatorial candidates, she can say she has the support of the people from her state – and not only citizens, but also the tribes in Washington.”
He also had the chance to reconnect with tribal leaders from around the United States, and discuss their common issues and concerns. “I was impressed by the level of tribal participation at the convention,” Bean said. “We were really able to come together and have a unified voice on these issues.”
Unlike past administrations, Obama has upheld many of the promises made to Native Americans – more so than any other president in history, according to Bean. “With this administration, we have a legitimate place at the table,” he said. “Before, we only had a spot on the menu.”