I've spent the majority of my career working to increase civic engagement in Native American communities. I believe in this work passionately and see it as a significant part of my vocation.
That's why my heart was overflowing due to the incredible turnout of hundreds of members of our community to the Minneapolis American Indian Mayoral Forum sponsored by the Native American Community Development Institute on October 17th.
Unfortunately, much of that joy was overshadowed by the fact that Minneapolis mayoral candidate Mark Andrew didn't attend the forum. He promised he'd be there -weeks before- and then cancelled at the last minute and sent staffers instead. We asked his staff where he was and they could not tell us. We have waited for an explanation from Mark Andrew. We have heard nothing.
Tragically, the American Indian community is used to broken promises by politicians. My hope was that this forum would provide an opportunity for all candidates to engage in an honest, open and direct dialogue with our community. Mark Andrew's absence felt like political "business as usual" and only serves to exacerbate the distrust between Native people and local government.
In politics and in life, actions speak louder than words. Mark Andrew's absence from the first ever Minneapolis American Indian Mayoral Forum speaks volumes. The American Indian community deserves an apology and an explanation from Mark Andrew.
Member, White Earth Nation of Ojibwe
Former Director, Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education