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Navajo Nation Endorses Obama

Navajo Times, News report, Cindy Yurth Posted: Sep 29, 2008

MacDonald, a Republican, endorses Obama

By Cindy Yurth
Tsyi' Bureau

CHINLE - The Navajo Nation's highest-profile Republican is crossing party lines this year, unless the McCain-Palin ticket can convince him it has Native Americans at heart.

"I think the Navajos' only choice is to go with the Democratic ticket," former Chairman Peter MacDonald Sr. said Tuesday.

Of course, more surprising than MacDonald endorsing a Democrat would have been MacDonald supporting his old nemesis John McCain.

As co-chair of the Senate Subcommittee for Indian Affairs, the Arizona senator presided over a 1988 hearing on MacDonald's business dealings that may have precipitated his ouster by the Navajo Nation Council in 1989, the ensuing riot by his supporters and his subsequent trials and convictions on federal fraud, racketeering and conspiracy charges.

But the four-term tribal chairman didn't mention his personal history with the senator during a telephone interview Tuesday.

"The past eight years have been disastrous for Native Americans and my fear is, that's going to continue if John McCain is elected," he declared.

Native Alaskan activists have pounced on McCain's running mate Sarah Palin for touting her husband's Yup'ik Eskimo ancestry even as she opposes Native positions on a host of issues.

But MacDonald said Arizonans don't have to look any further than John McCain's record if they wish to know how Natives would be treated under a McCain-Palin administration.

"All the years John McCain has been the senator from Arizona and what do we have?" MacDonald asked rhetorically. "Unconscionably high unemployment rates, inadequate jails, not enough law enforcement personnel, zero economic development.

"I believe Arizona's tribes should look at their own situation and decide if they want the senator from Arizona to be president," he said.

MacDonald also believes McCain bungled the partitioning of Navajo and Hopi lands.

"The federal government's role should have been to facilitate the two tribes working it out for themselves," MacDonald said. "Instead, the people in that area suffered needlessly and continue to suffer because of government meddling."

With all that said, why be a Republican?

"I chose to be a Republican and I will continue to be a Republican," MacDonald stated. "Over the years, we've had some very good Republican presidents. Richard Nixon was a great president for Native Americans - he gave us the Indian Self-Determination Act."

However, MacDonald also liked the policies of Democrats Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

"The way I see it, once a party selects the best they can, then it's up to us to decide which person is the best for the job," MacDonald said. "Some people vote blindly, Republican-Republican-Republican all the way down the ballot, or Democrat-Democrat-Democrat. We're not obligated to do that in this country, so why would you do it?"


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