Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum

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Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum is named in honor of Frank LaMere, a well-known and beloved Native American civil rights activist from the Sioux City area, who passed in June 2019. As a nonpartisan event, all major Democratic and Republican presidential candidates were invited to participate in the forum, including President Donald Trump and Republican challenger William Weld.

Event

The Native American Rights Fund was proud to co-host the nation’s first-ever presidential forum focusing entirely on Native American issues, the Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum. In addition to co-hosting, NARF Executive Director John Echohawk (Pawnee) participated in the forum as a panelist.

The Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum was held August 19th and 20th 2019 in Sioux City, Iowa. Over the two days, each candidate held individual appearance and responded to questions from panels of tribal leaders and Native American youth and elders. Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women was the key topic and many Native American women who are tribal and community leaders were among the panelists, including Gay Kingman, the executive director of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association.

“This forum isn’t about ‘gotcha’ moments. It’s about ‘get it’ moments. We want candidates to grasp the challenges and aspirations of Indian Country. At the two nights of candidate debates in Miami, broadcast to a national audience, not one question or one candidate comment addressed Native American issues. Ignoring this forum in Iowa is ignoring the millions of First Americans who are citizens and voters.” said OJ Semans, co-executive director of the national Native American voting rights organization Four Directions, Inc..[1]

The Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum — named for the late Winnebago activist — is hosted by Native American voting rights group Four Directions, Inc. and the Native Organizers Alliance.

A panel of tribal leaders, tribal citizens and Native American youth presented questions to each of the presidential candidates who appeared Monday (Aug. 19) at the two-day forum. A total of 11 candidates are expected to attend the forum at the Orpheum Theater in Sioux City, Iowa, either in person or via video.

OJ Semans, co-executive director of Four Directions, Inc., introduced the forum as “Indian Country 101 for America,” which included discussions of issues informed by indigenous spirituality.

Judith LeBlanc, director of the Native Organizers Alliance, referenced the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s action to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota in her opening remarks. That action was sustained by a belief in the sacredness of the land and a spiritual responsibility to protect the water that ran through it.

“We are moving on a continuum from protest to power,” LeBlanc said.

“Standing Rock interrupted the narrative, and when we left Standing Rock, we went back to our cities and our reservations to organize.”[2]

Event Schedule: Monday, Aug. 19:

Tuesday, Aug 20:

Praxis project support/Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum

The Praxis Project August 18 2019·

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We are very excited to be supporting our partners Native Organizers Alliance and Four Directions as they and other incredible groups lead efforts to bring Indian country issues to the forefront through the Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum to be held on Monday and Tuesday in Sioux City, Iowa. Our Indigenous communities can swing 77 electoral votes in states where past key elections were won/lost by less than 1000 votes. Great NY Times article here: https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2019/08/17/us/politics/ap-us-election-2020-native-americans.html. #NativeVote2020 — with Cherilyn Yazzie, Shelley Means, Matthew Samp, Wayne Frederick, Jennifer Plummer, Xavier Morales, Cherie Thunder, Jasha Lyons Echo-Hawk of OK House District 35, Michael Hester, Asa Washines, Robert Chanate and Judith LeBlanc in Sioux City, Iowa.

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