Tribal Leader Calls for Unity, Voter Participation to Native American Students
After speaking at their graduation ceremony this spring, U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs leader David Anderson returned to Haskell Indian Nations University recently to remind students to take control of their lives.
As for students planning to party rather than study this semester?
“I’m asking you to leave. Now,” Anderson said, pointing to the Haskell Memorial Stadium exit where about 300 students and faculty gathered for the speech.
Anderson, a motivational speaker, was appointed by President Bush to the top post of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 2003. The Chippewa and Choctaw tribe member and founder of the “Famous Dave’s” family restaurant chain openly shared his struggles with alcoholism and school.
“I was a C, D, F student,” Anderson said. “I’ve been sober nine and a half years now.”
His speech also addressed the lack of Native American participation in U.S. politics.
“We don’t vote,” Anderson said, pointing out the absence of Native Americans at the Republican National Convention.
Too often Native Americans expect the federal government to solve their problems, Anderson said, preferring dependence over independence.
Anderson’s comments were well received, and some interpreted his remarks as a call for American Indians to unite as a people rather than as individual tribes.
“I heard him at commencement,” said Leroy Silva, a Haskell student. “He motivated me then, and now he’s motivated me again.”
— Associated Press
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