Not willing to cede the American Indian vote in what promises to be a close presidential election this November, Republican candidate Mitt Romney agreed to discuss with Indian Country Today Media Network some of the important issues facing Native citizens and tribes today.

“I respect and support the sovereignty of Native American tribes and recognize the importance of their culture to the rich fabric of this great country,” Romney says. “I welcome the support and input of the tribes in our fight to restore America as the most prosperous country in the world and a beacon of liberty.”

While the former governor of Massachusetts is saying the right things about sovereignty and other tribal matters, he still has an uphill battle to convince a majority of Indians that they should support him. He has met with tribal leaders and hosted a Native fund-raiser this summer, talked regularly with Indian consultants during his long campaign, and his people helped write the strong tribal sovereignty-focused platform that was unveiled in August at the GOP convention.

These actions matter, Romney’s Indian supporters say, because while Democrats have taken action on behalf of Indian country in recent times, Republican ideas have long been the impetus for tribal self-determination and economic development—strong and widely supported philosophies in most of Indian country. Indians have learned that no matter who seems to be their best friend in Washington, D.C. at any given moment, it is always smart to foster relationships across the aisle to be sure that Native voices are consistently heard and Native concerns are addressed.

In courting Indians, Romney is not afraid to express views that will be unpopular with some tribal citizens, such as his fervent support for the Keystone XL pipeline, saying that it is a “crucial step” in his plan to achieve North American energy independence by 2020.

President Barack Obama’s interview with ICTMN this past week was the first time a sitting president did a Q&A with the Native press. Similarly, Romney’s answers here, submitted via e-mail, are a milestone, the first time a Republican challenger for the presidency has done a Q&A with the Native press.

Many Republicans, including President Richard Nixon, have been among the greatest supporters of Indian self-determination. Do you see yourself continuing in that tradition?

Americans Indians truly embody the American spirit of entrepreneurship, hard work and self-reliance. It is this spirit that will help our country return to economic prosperity. I acknowledge and appreciate this spirit and will support tribes in their efforts to create and expand their economic opportunities. As president, I will be committed to providing tribes a seat at the table so that we can work together to get our economy back on track. I value the tribes’ input, and my administration will work to foster a culture of collaboration and respect.

What does tribal sovereignty mean to you? Do you see it as akin to states’ rights?

Tribal sovereignty is a fundamental part of our national heritage and is recognized in our Constitution. I respect and support the sovereignty of Native American tribes and recognize the importance of their culture to the rich fabric of this great country. My administration will treat this government-to-government relationship with the respect it deserves. I believe that along with continued self-determination, tribes must be empowered to pursue continued economic development and expanded prosperity. I welcome the support and input of the tribes in our fight to restore America as the most prosperous country in the world and a beacon of liberty.

What is the best way to resolve conflicts between tribal nations and the federal and state governments?

My administration will be committed to fostering and preserving a strong relationship with our nation’s tribes; one built on mutual consideration, respect and trust. As president, I will work with the tribes to improve vital services and receive input on policy. For example, I respect the unique relationship Native American tribes have with the land. I believe this relationship is key to both tribal culture and future prosperity. I am dedicated to ensuring that that relationship is not adversely encroached upon. In addition, my administration will work to improve government inefficiencies that hinder federal services to tribes and impede tribes’ economic opportunities.

Where do you stand on tribal gaming?

I respect the sovereignty of tribal governments and the rights of tribes under federal law, including their rights to operate gaming facilities in compliance with the law. I realize that tribes have thrived in their management of the gaming industry. This success should be respected and not hampered by Big Labor special interests. Additionally, I will fight attempts by Big Labor to compromise the economic liberty of Native Americans.

What is your position on the Keystone XL pipeline?

North America is the fastest-growing oil- and gas-producing region in the world, and the continent now has an opportunity to achieve freedom from OPEC that would not have even been contemplated just 10 years ago. Unfortunately, President Obama has chosen to turn his back on America’s neighbors. He rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have dramatically increased the supply of Canadian oil to the U.S. market, and now Canada plans to send that oil to China instead. Today, America still imports more oil from OPEC than it does from Canada and Mexico.

As Canadian Prime Minister [Stephen] Harper notes, fostering a greater North American energy partnership that replaces OPEC imports with stable supply from secure sources at discounted prices should be a no-brainer. And Mexico is now displaying a renewed interest in collaborating with outside partners to increase development of its own plentiful resources. By collaborating with these countries on energy development, America can guarantee itself a reliable and affordable supply of energy while also opening up new opportunities for American businesses and workers in the region. Construction of the Keystone XL pipeline is a crucial step in my plan to achieve North American energy independence by 2020. On day one of my presidency, I will approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
SOURCE Indian Country Today

Responses to "Mitt Romney Answers Questions From Indian Country Today Media Network in Exclusive Exchange"

  1. onebr2 says:

    As shown throughout his campaign Mitt Romney has shown to be serial liar. All indigenous people of this hemisphere have had their fair share of people who lie. Mitt Romney is no different than others before him. Money and greed govern his actions and any who don't see this invite trouble. Knowledge invites responsibility.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The First Nations listened to and believed the first settlers too and look what happened. Mitt Romney is NOT to be trusted!!!!!!

  3. I was a citizen of Massachusetts when he was governor there. He did not impress me then. His recent comments showed to me after checking the facts he will say anything to persuade, even outright lie, in order to get people on his side. Obama has done what he could considering the obstacles with congress and has been fairly honest in his approach to issues before him.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Mitt sounds pretty good to me! :)

  5. Anonymous says:

    If you believe either of them truly care for us you are mistaken. They only see votes. The federal government has been trying to kill us or assimilate us since the founding of the government. An we all need to stop looking at what political party they belong to an see who acts most like a shirt wearer and quit going by their words.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The President Obama signed into law the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which included more than $3 billion in direct funding for Indian Country that:

    Spurred job creation in tribal communities
    Helped tribal communities renovate schools on reservations
    Supported health facilities and policing services
    Improved housing and energy efficiency:

    The Obama Administration is also taking steps to provide the most significant and comprehensive reforms to Indian land leasing in 50 years.
    The administration is working to reform and streamline regulations on business leasing, residential leasing and renewable energy development on Indian trust land.

  7. Anonymous says:

    When President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in March 2010, he permanently authorized the Indian Health Care Improvement Act and made good on his word to work towards improving the gaping health care disparities faced by Native Americans.

    The Indian Health Service provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for approximately 1.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives, who belong to 564 federally recognized tribes in 35 states.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Enhancing the role of tribes in education

    The President is calling for changes to existing education law that would fund native language restoration and immersion programs in our schools
    President Obama signed into law historic student loan reforms that better invest in our students and remove big banks as middlemen in the student-lending industry. This law also provided $300 million for Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities to strengthen and support these institutions.
    The President signed an executive order to expand educational opportunities for all American Indian and Alaska Native students, including opportunities to learn their Native languages, cultures, and histories.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Building stronger ties to tribal communities

    President Obama is committed to regular and meaningful engagement with Indian country, including unprecedented federal consultation with tribal leaders.

    President Obama has held an Annual White House Tribal Nations Conference every year since taking office, leading to greater consultation between tribes and the federal government and helping shape policy priorities.
    Tribal communities have key personnel advising the President on policies affecting their communities.
    President Obama endorsed the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Restoring tribal homelands

    Through 2011, more than 157,000 acres of land has been taken into trust status on behalf of Indian tribes and individuals—an increase of 130,000 acres from what was acquired between 2005 and 2008.
    President Obama approved an unprecedented package of four water settlements benefiting seven tribes in Arizona, Montana and New Mexico—the Crow and White Mountain Apache Tribes and the Pueblos of Nambe, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, Taos and Tesuque.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.
  12. The Crow gave Obama an Indian Name while he was still campaigning for President. I wonder what Tribe will give Romney his Indian name, and what would it be?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Guess what? Obama just gave 700 million acres of pristine wilderness, our PUBLIC LAND, to his friends in the natural gas industry so they can frack it. Fracking destroys habitats faster than any other system of extrapolating natural resources, kills off fish, game, poisons people, water, animals, and our precious land. You are an imbecile if you think Obama cares about you. He would rip Native lands out of your hands in a second if it was in his friends interest. Go do some research before spreading your stupidity all over the Internet because then maybe you can join in the fight to save our lands and our wildlife instead of buying into the bullshit while these things are blatantly stolen from us!

  14. Anonymous says:

    And Romney is the same. They are both working for the same people and you can see that by looking at who has made hefty campaign contributions and many large corporations gave equal amounts of money to them BOTH. This is public information.

Write a comment