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Last updated 9:14PM ET
December 14, 2017
Election 2008
Election 2008
Native American Vote at DNC
(2008-08-27)
(ksut) - Colorado delegates welcomed the governor of Arizona on Tuesday, while Ute tribal leaders gathered to discuss the importance of the Native American vote.

Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano was one of the guests of honor at the Colorado delegates breakfast meeting. During her speech, she took a stab at her own state's senator John McCain and his lack of knowledge about how many homes he owns.

"We are the state that's home to John McCain, or at least one of his homes," she joked.

Pat Waak is the chair of Colorado Democrats and was the host for the morning meetings. She said that things were running smoothly in downtown Denver so far. Waak said she is enjoying her time at the convention, and especially the Colorado delegates' seats at the Pepsi Center.

"We have a great position on the floor right up next to the podium... It's very exciting for us, hosting the convention and greeting all our friends. I had a lot of state party chairs who came by and said how wonderful it was. So it's great," Waak said.

Durango delegate Brian O'Donnell said he has been busy talking to politicians and officials about issues that affect the Western Slope.

"Energy and environmental issues are really important to people, [also] healthcare, [and] the economy is a big issue for everyone. I want to make sure that people from southwest Colorado were the host delegation. A lot of members from the media and other elected officials are interested in how things are going in southwest Colorado and how Senator Obama's doing, how the campaign's doing down here," O'Donnell said.

Waak also talked about the Native American vote, an issue that greatly impacts the Four Corners region.

"I'm very interested in [the Native American vote]. My grandfather is part Cherokee and part Chocktaw. I did go down and meet with Chairman Frost (chairman of the Southern Ute tribe) several months ago... I'd like to go down and see what I can do. Generally, to make sure people are participating in the process. We're going to do some outreach... I want to work with them to see what works best for them," Waak said.

After the morning breakfast, tribal leaders from the Northern Ute, Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes gathered at the Warwick Hotel to discuss issues important to the Native American vote, and who they plan to cast their ballot for come November.

"We need to unify in regards to all the issues that the Native people have across the country. And with this new administration that's coming on, I think there is that opportunity for us to present our concerns and our issues. I hope that the new president will allow the tribe to have a one-to-one meeting within a group with the new president," said Clement Frost, chairman of the Southern Ute tribe.

In the past, Native votes have only been considered near election time and when past administrations needed their vote, said Frost.

Ernest House, Sr. is the chairman of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and also hosted the brunch. He echoed Frost's sentiments and said the new administration needs to keep the dialogue open.

"It all comes down to communication. Communication with the federal people back in DC. If Obama gets the presidency, I'm sure that he has a platform that he wants to share with the Native American people. And if he says what he says in Washington and on the reservation that he has been visiting, certainly this is an open door for us to give him what we have," House said.

Some of the issues of particular concern to the the Ute tribes are healthcare, federal funding cuts to the tribes, trust responsibilities and sovereignty issues.

Curtis Cesspooch is the chairman of the Northern Ute tribe in Utah. He says he likes Obama because he understands the some of racial issues that Natives face.

"Being a minority, he understands how it is to be not in the major society stream. In that sense it maybe helpful to Indian tribes," Cesspooch said.
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