OPINION: Important to exercise our right to vote
Look no further than the current gaming compact dispute between the governor of Oklahoma and the tribes for an example of why it is important for Native people to not only vote, but also truly analyze the candidates that they support at the polls. During the campaign, Gov. Kevin Stitt championed tribal sovereignty in order to solicit votes from the Native people in the state. It is apparent now that there was no conviction and sincerity in his words, just campaign propaganda to sway voters.
As we approach the primaries and the 2020 election cycle, Natives have a chance again to exercise a freedom that ancestors a generation or two did not have. We have an opportunity to not only participate in this cherished process, but also cast votes for individuals who we believe will protect our best interest at the local, state and federal levels. I implore Cherokees and all Natives to not take this freedom and right lightly. Men and women have fought and died so that you can cast a ballot.
Nationally, Native people make up 1.6 percent of the United States population. However, in the state of Oklahoma, that figure grows to nearly 10 percent. Given the number of active voters, if Native people fully engage in the Democratic process, we will have a major impact at the polls on Election Day in Oklahoma, as well as other states with high Native populations, like Alaska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Arizona and Montana.
Once again, I implore my fellow Natives to not be apathetic when it comes to voting. Together, Native people can make our voice heard and effect positive change at the polls. I do not and will not endorse any specific candidate, but I fully endorse Native people showing up on Election Day and taking action through the Democratic process. It will be important to the future of all Native people that we elect leaders who will recognize and support the rights and sovereignty of our tribes.