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2014 Mansfield-Metcalf Celebration recognizes Indian Country

By Lailani Upham

Sen. Jon Tester, who serves on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee was in Wash. D.C. with CSKT Tribal Chairman Ron Trahan pushed his bipartisan bill, the Tribal Self-Governance Act, an effort to streamline the Interior Department's process for approving tribes' self-governance compacts, making it easier for them to take over essential services and programs historically managed by the federal government. Flags of all the tribal nations of Montana hang vertically on each side of the stage at the Dem party. (Lailani Upham photo) Sen. Jon Tester, who serves on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee was in Wash. D.C. with CSKT Tribal Chairman Ron Trahan pushed his bipartisan bill, the Tribal Self-Governance Act, an effort to streamline the Interior Department's process for approving tribes' self-governance compacts, making it easier for them to take over essential services and programs historically managed by the federal government. Flags of all the tribal nations of Montana hang vertically on each side of the stage at the Dem party. (Lailani Upham photo)

HELENA — Lively and festive – was the atmosphere at the 36th Annual Mansfield-Metcalf celebration last Saturday night at the Lewis and Clark Fairgrounds in Helena.

The 36,000 square foot Exhibit Hall was packed from front to back with hundreds of guests sponsoring tables and exchanging handshakes and smiles.

The celebration is yearly fund raising event that intends to rally the troops in the Democratic Party for the upcoming elections.

According to WiKi, the late Michael Joseph “Mike” Mansfield, a member of Democratic Party, served as a U.S. Representative (1943–1953) and a U.S. Senator (1953–1977) from Montana. He was the longest-serving Senate Majority Leader, serving from 1961 to 1977. During his tenure, he shepherded Great Society programs through the Senate and strongly opposed the Vietnam War. After retiring from the Senate, Mansfield served as U.S. Ambassador to Japan and was awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1989.

WiKi records Lee Warren Metcalf, as a lawyer, judge, and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as a U.S. Representative (1953–1961) and a U.S. Senator (1961–1978) from Montana. He was permanent acting President pro tempore of the Senate, the only person to hold that position, from 1963 until his death in 1978.

Montana tribal nations have considerable support from Democratic Party members than any other state, said Missoula resident and Blackfeet/Seneca member, Laura John.

“Every individual stepped up to make a connection to Indian Country,” John stated.

The party kicked off with a Victory song by Jay Dusty Bull not only for the event for but for the 2014 election cycle, according to James Steele, Jr., Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal member and Montana Indian Democratic Council Chair.

“Montana Democrats gathered in celebration with Native Americans from tribes across the state,” Steele stated.

The audience stands in ovation as Gov. Steve Bullock concludes his speech. (Lailani Upham, photo)The audience stands in ovation as Gov. Steve Bullock concludes his speech. (Lailani Upham, photo)

Steele added that Montana Democrats are partners in Indian Country helping elect Native Americans to office. “2014 will be a great year as we have a great numbers of Native Americans running for office. We celebrate our friend Senator Jon Tester’s elevation to Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee as he continues to fight for Montana’s Indian people. Montana Democrats has always stood with Indian Country and we’re proud of the work the Montana Democratic Party has done to advance Native American issues.”

Candidate for U.S. House, John Lewis’s grandfather Harold Lewis, was a member of the Warm Springs Tribal Council in Oregon worked on several reservations over his forty year career with the Bureau of Indian Affairs before he settled in Montana where his grandfather worked on the Flathead Reservation and Crow Reservation.

U.S. House candidate Lewis’s father, Mike Lewis grew up in St. Ignatius.

“Spending time with leaders and families in every tribe across the state shows me that Indian Country deserves better than what it’s getting from a broken Washington. Bringing more jobs and economic investment to Indian communities are top priorities to me along with improving infrastructure, health care and education. I’m concerned that when DC jumps from crisis to crisis, too often it’s our seniors, veterans, students, teachers and families in Indian Country who are asked to shoulder the burden. Congress has trust obligations to Indian people that it must honor government-to-government,” Lewis stated.

According to Lewis’s communication office, Lewis looks forward to working closely with tribes and Indian communities to help achieve self-determination, to improve health care and education, and to create jobs and economic opportunity. Lewis says he that Congress has specific trust obligations to Indian people, and his plan is to work closely with them, government-to-government.

Jason Smith, CSKT tribal member and Montana Indian Democratic Council Secretary says, “There are many challenges we face in Montana and especially in Indian Country, but there are many opportunities to enhance our lives. Democrats have always understood those challenges and have been advocates for Indian Country on issues from economic development and education to health care and voter access. I’m also proud that Democrats helped elect the first Native American to statewide office.”

Proceeds from this event will benefit the Montana Democratic Party.

For more information on the Montana Indian Democrats Council, visit www.montanaindiandemocrats.org.

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