Alaska’s largest Native organization endorses Clinton for president

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking with supporters at a “Get Out the Caucus” rally at Valley Southwoods Freshman High School in West Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 24, 2016. (Creative Commons photo by Gage Skidmore)
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking with supporters at a “Get Out the Caucus” rally at Valley Southwoods Freshman High School in West Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 24, 2016. (Creative Commons photo by Gage Skidmore)

For the first time in its 50-year history, the Alaska Federation of Natives has endorsed a candidate for president — Hillary Clinton.

The organization laid out the contrast between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in its news release:

“With only 20 days until the Presidential election on November 8th, the choice we have is this: 1) to elect a president who will continue working with us to achieve further self-determination and legal empowerment as sovereign, self-governing Indigenous peoples, with a firm foothold in the larger economy and strong Native institutions, full of hope and confidence for our children and grandchildren; OR  2) to elect a president who will lead our federal government down the path of marginalizing Native Americans and dramatically weakening the special trust relationship between Native Americans and the federal government, putting at risk all the gains we have achieved in our lifetime.”

The AFN board hasn’t typically issued endorsements in the past. They bucked tradition at the 2014 conference, endorsing Bill Walker for governor over incumbent Sean Parnell, and Mark Begich for U.S. Senate over Dan Sullivan. Walker and Sullivan prevailed in those elections.

In addition to endorsing Parnell’s opponent, AFN President Julie Kitka gave a scathing critique of Parnell’s track record on Native issues while in office.

Getting into the habit of endorsing political candidates is not one all AFN board members are keen on. Some board members abstained from voting on the Clinton endorsement, as did some in 2014.

AFN spokesperson Ben Mallott says the board may make additional endorsements this year after candidate forums Friday afternoon. U.S. Senate candidates Lisa Murkowski, Margaret Stock, Joe Miller and Ray Metcalfe are scheduled to appear at the forum, as are U.S. House candidates Don Young and Steve Lindbeck.