Tickets will be on sale beginning at 4 pm on Thursday, August 1, 2019. Event will begin at 9 am and end at 6 pm each day, with candidates given 45 minutes each to answer questions presented by the panel.
A coalition of national organizations representing and advocating for Native Americans announced Sioux City, Iowa has been chosen as the site of the nation’s first-ever Native American presidential forum focusing entirely on issues of national concern to First Americans.
Four Directions, Inc. a, non-profit working to bring equality to the ballot box in Indian Country, is leading the effort. The forum will be called “The Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum” in honor of the Native American civil rights leader and champion of Four Directions, Frank LaMere. LaMere was involved in the very beginnings of Four Directions and was a true fighter for civil rights in Indian Country. Frank passed away in June.
The forum will be held August 19th and 20th at the Orpheum Theatre, 528 Pierce Street. Over the course of two days, each candidate will be responding to questions from panels of elected tribal officials, tribal members and Native American youth.
Each panel will be moderated by Mark Trahant. Trahant is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe and editor of Indian Country Today, based in Washington, DC. He is a respected voice for Native peoples and well-versed in the many Native cultures.
Panelists will consist of a male and female tribal leader, tribal members and plus Native American youth. In addition to the panel, will be Marcella LeBeau. LeBeau is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and a 99-year-old veteran of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps during World War II and recipient of the French Legion of Honor for her role in liberating France from Nazi control. LeBeau will be on hand to ask each candidate their views on H.R. 3467, the “Remove the Stain Act,” an historic legislation recently introduced to rescind the 20 Medals of Honor given to the murderers at the Wounded Knee Massacre.
All 26 major Democratic and Republican presidential candidates have been invited to participate in the forum, including President Donald Trump and Republican challenger William Weld.
With presidential candidates engaging directly with Native Americans on issues affecting their lives, Four Directions organizers expect the forum will create an excitement and interest which will increase the Native voter turnout in unprecedented numbers.
“We expect many candidates will be here, because they know Native American voter turnout continues to increase from one election to the next and we expect to break all records in 2020,” said O.J. Semans, Sr., co-executive director of the national Native American voting rights organization Four Directions. He said an energized electorate on reservations in seven key swing states may likely impact the final results for control of both the White House and United States Senate.
“We remember that Bobby Kennedy visited Pine Ridge in his 1968 campaign and spent more time than scheduled because he listened intently and saw fully the challenges and hardships of Native Americans,” said Semans. “We’ll never know what might have happened had he not been assassinated. One of these candidates today has the opportunity to fulfill Bobby Kennedy’s destiny for addressing the concerns of Native Americans.”
Four Directions is the leading national Native American-led organization protecting, expanding and activating access to the ballot box in Indian Country. The organization has won numerous lawsuits in various states addressing voting access for First Americans.
“Native Americans have been disenfranchised at the ballot box in federal elections,” said Semans. “But across the nation in Indian Country, we’re getting more voters to the polls and 2020 will be our biggest year ever for voter participation. Nationally and in swing states, we’re the sleeping giant for the 2020 election.”
Click here to purchase tickets for Monday, August 19, 2019
Click here to purchase tickets for Tuesday, August 20, 2019