New Mexico’s Indians have come out in support of Barack Obama. The All Indian Pueblo Council, the Mescalero Apache Tribe and the Navajo Nation made it official this week. The endorsement follows a meeting a day earlier when Obama met with tribal leaders at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque. The center is operated by the 19 pueblo tribes of New Mexico.
Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr. cited frustration with federal policies that “have eroded tribal culture and language” as part of the reason for the endorsement.
Obama, who was in New Mexico trying to woo Hispanic voters, tacked the meeting with the Indian leaders onto his schedule. He said tribes face a special set of challenges and he looks forward to working with all tribal leaders.
Following the meeting Obama stopped in Espanola, where his speech was directed to the mostly Hispanic crowd.
New Mexico’s Indian tribes are only the latest to fall in place behind the Democratic candidate. The chairman of the Southern Ute Tribe of Colorado praised Obama, saying he is “willing to go outside the box,” that he shows a “lot of confidence.” No mention was made of the fact that Obama mispronounced “Ute.”
Earlier, the 16 Great Plains tribes, centered in North and South Dakota and Nebraska, endorsed Obama. "Whether the issue is self-determination, law enforcement, housing, health care, education, protection of Native cultures and languages, or combating the spread of methamphetamines in Tribal communities, Barack Obama is committed to working hand-in-hand with Native American communities to address our needs and aspirations," the Tribal Association’s resolution states.
As an indication of Obama’s popularity, Sioux leaders presented him a painted Lakota buffalo chief’s robe. Whether he’ll fill that robe as “chief” only time now will tell.