Minneapolis, MN - Rock the Vote Native Style and MN350 hosted a robust virtual panel around the topics of political engagement, voter participation, and building collective power in Indigenous communities across Minnesota.
Highlights included a discussion around why voting is so important in BIPOC communities. Rock the Vote Native Style's Nancy Beaulieu (Leech Lake) said:
"Elections have consequences. You have to remember that we have power to decide on the quality of life that we want for ourselves and for our future generations. So voting is our chance to stand up the issues that we care about, like public transportation or raising minimum wage or funding local schools. This is our life, and we want to make sure that we take the time to help decide what's best, and we do that by supporting candidates that align with our values and the needs of our community, and that starts at the local level. So I encourage all of our relatives out there listening to building that understanding about why your mayor, your commissioners in your local cities and counties -- that's where change begins within your own community. Again, if we don't vote, the consequences are that we're not going to see the change, so that's why voting is important to me."
Diego Guaman, Unidos MN organizer said:
"In the Latinx community we have barriers. There are many ways the system has been oppressing us for years. The issues [raised in elections] most of the time, they are interconnected for all of us, so all of us need to be in this fight together. And the reason it's so important to vote is because we want to do this work, and then make sure after that we fight for our agenda. We fight for freedom, we fight for liberation. Yes, we know that we are participating in this system that is oppressing us, but this is the thing -- to fight this system we need to do it in many ways, and voting is one of the ways we fight back and take ownership of what belongs to us."
The conversation was moderated by Christian Taylor-Johnson (Leech Lake) and Nancy Beaulieu (Leech Lake), and participants included: Debra Topping (Fond Du Lac), E. Joey Oppegaard-Peltier (Turtle Mountain Anishinaabe), Louisa Posada (Pasqua Yaqui, Mescalero Apache, Cherokee Nations Cherokee), Joe Vital (Native People's Caucus), Jolene Jones (Make Voting a Tradition), Simone Senigoles (Indigenous Environmental Network), Diego Guaman (Unidos MN), and Nicole Ektnitphong (MN350, MN350 Action).
MN350 is a statewide environmental group with 20,000 supporters working to make Minnesota a national leader in a just transition to a clean energy economy. MN350 Action is its political and advocacy arm.
Rock the Vote Native Style, a Minnesota campaign led by Native leaders and organizers, advocates for Native voter education and mobilization to empower communities to make their voices heard on racial and climate justice.