Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
TRAVERSE CITY, MICHIGAN "What do we tell pregnant women, who are nursing, and our children about eating fish out of Lake Michigan?" asked Congressional candidate Derek Bailey to a group of supporters at fund raiser in Lansing, Michigan.
Becky Williams, Belinda Bardwell with Chairman Bailey
“Not to eat it - because of the high levels of mercury” was the answer.
Bailey, who is running for the Democratic nomination for Michigan's First Congressional District, mixes his American Indian value system for respect for the environment with his reasoning on issues that impact voters today.
As tribal chairman of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, he has spoken and written about reducing the threat of invasive species, Asian carp, transferring between the Mississippi River and Great Lakes water basins.
Candidate Bailey is first active tribal chairman of an American Indian tribe to run for Congress. Candidate Bailey believes the long range decision making process utilized by American Indians should be a model for those who serve in Congress.
As Bailey integrates his American Indian value system into his stump speeches, he connects with non-Indian crowds with ease. Last October when he announced his candidacy to a capacity crowd in Traverse City, Bailey recounted how his uncle, John, taught him the precept of planning, deciding and acting for the next seven generations.
“Can you imagine how much better things would be in Washington if Congress planned for the next seven generations?”
asked Bailey. The crowd loved it.
Michigan First Congressional District includes all of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and a large section of the Lower Peninsula. While eight of the twelve federally recognized American Indian tribes based in Michigan are located within the confines First Congressional District, Bailey is fully aware he must win over the support of non-Indians. He realizes he must win the support of young and old voters.
At his campaign functions across the Congressional District, Bailey attracts nice crowds that are attended by American Indians and non-Indians. For instance, last Friday evening he held a meet and greet at the InsideOut Gallery in Traverse City. There were some 250 supporters in attendance; about 20 percent were Native.
“As a non-Native resident of Northwest Michigan, I have a great deal of respect for Derek Bailey. He has been a very effective voice for the Grand Traverse Band, and has done much during his term as Chairman to reach out to the entire region.”
Commented William Strait, a writer from nearby Interlochen.
“His intelligence, disposition and understanding of the values of Northern Michigan would be a pleasant change in Washington.”
"Chairman Bailey addressed the crowd tonight with tenacity, showing his passion for all constituents in the Congressional district, and not just the Native voters. But, as a Native woman, I was truly inspired by his words and will continue to support his campaign anyway I can. He will be the person that will always keep our past and future seven generations in mind when he goes to DC, which will be a refreshing change in the Congress."
Commented Belinda Bardwell from the Little Bay Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians who attended the "meet & greet" in Traverse City last Friday evening.
Bailey faces competition for the Democratic nomination from Gary McDowell, a former Michigan state representative who has been at American politics, versus tribal politics, longer than Bailey.
However, McDowell was beat by the incumbent Congressman Dan Benishek, who had a lot of Tea Party support.
The voters in the Congressional district have a clear choice.
Editor's Note: Look for Guest Commentary on the environment by Congressional Candidate Derek Bailey in the Native News Network on Earth Day this Friday.
photo credit Lucy McClellan-Hunter;
posted April 16, 2012 11:40 am edt
Thank you for visiting. We are loading the new Native News Network website. Visitors always come first, so if you click on a link only to find the corresponding page is unavailable, please use this link to contact us here ».
Then, tell us how we can help you.
I will contact you personally.