by Allen Stephenson
Its been several days since President Trump’s State of the Union address, a highly
anticipated, albeit mixed bag of political rhetoric. While the first half of his speech seemed to
focus on his slogan “Make America great again,” we can only question how the logistics of the
policies he sets forth could happen. The President undoubtedly is making good on his word at
face value. His policy of putting “America first” became evident with the subject matter in the
beginning his address. Tax cuts, the economy, regulatory reform, trade and new ideas on
immigration, but in terms of the American people, just who are they?
"Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground,
and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve," Trump
exclaims at one point. The American people are many things and one of them is most definitely
divided. The irony of calling people to come together when the government itself was on
furlough several days prior is glaring. It was also painfully apparent that Bipartisan policies were
no where to be found and not happening anytime soon. Trump appeared to be bragging almost
about undoing every Obama era regulation, even to the point of declaring that Guantanamo Bay
prison in Cuba would stay open. An insult to injury as it were, to Obama’s long-standing struggle
to shut the prison down during the time of his presidency.
The arena of American politics is a savage one to say the least, so where then do we as
Native Americas draw the line between hope and political despondency? In the surge of
American energy production Trump has consigned land from the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge in Alaska and offshore for oil drilling and fracking. “We have ended the war on
American energy. And we have ended the war on beautiful, clean coal.” Trump claims in his
speech. This is troubling to indigenous people for many reasons, but is he aware of that? Just
how much do Indigenous people add up in his vision for the American people? Its hard to say.
We can do more than hope however by staying informed and knowing how political discourse
works in the white man’s court is a critical start, if not necessary for the future of our people. The
president discussed many things having to do with the “greatness” of our country and presented
the lives of veterans and their stories in true hallmark fashion towards the conclusion of his
speech, but nary a word on Russia or pending investigations on possible collusion, go figure.
The new American politico doesn’t have to be some middle aged white guy touting
outdated political values based on profit and private ownership. He or She, could be someone
from Wolf Clan, A water protector, someone with powerful medicine, someone with long hair or
who was raised by their elders. Someone that danced jingle dress or straight. This person could
be indigenous, this person could be you or me.