All three candidates are forgetting urban Indians

Dear Editor,

In response to the article, “John McCain on Native American Policy” in the March 31, 2008, edition.

John McCain, like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, speak only of Indian people living on the reservations. Don’t they realize that over 65 percent of Indian people live off reservations?

Apparently the candidates assume that our tribes speak for us – impossible in most cases. When the federal government moved half of the Indian people into the cities in the late 1950s and early 1960s, they moved many of us hundreds of miles from our homes

Urban Indian have the same severe problems and unmet needs that all Indian people have. In the cities we also suffer racial discrimination.

If urban Indians all returned to their reservations, what would the tribes do? Many would go bankrupt trying to provide services.

Urban Indian centers raise their own operating funds. Mainstream grant funders ask us why we are applying for funding when we have all of that gaming money? Any publicity around successful gaming operations only hurts our funding chances. They all think we are all rich.

The promises made to Indian people by the federal government that should accrue to Indians through tribal membership have failed to follow us into the cities. An example would be health care, which for urban Indian is $1.90 per year, this year.

All three candidates need a wake-up call. Indians living outside of their tribe’s social service area receive no services and have no voice anywhere. We realize the importance of tribal sovereignty, but we are asking for a seat at the table.

Fay Givens
American Indian Services
National Urban Indians Coalition
Lincoln Park, Michigan 48146