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Powwow draws politicians to Tama

T-R PHOTO BY Allison Graham
Presidential candidate Marianne Williamson speaks to the crowd at the 105th annual Meskwaki Powwow on Saturday, August 10.

From the infamous Wing Ding in Clear Lake to a Mom’s Demand Action gun reform forum in Des Moines and soap boxing at the Iowa State Fair, presidential candidates have kept busy in the state of Iowa this weekend. Three presidential candidates also made stops at at the 105th Annual Meskwaki Powwow on Saturday,.

Arriving just after the 1 p.m. Grand Entry was Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. After speaking to the crowd, Bullock along with his wife, two daughters and son toured the Powwow grounds. Bullock, dressed in blue jeans, a button up long sleeve blue shirt and Rayban shades stopped to talk with Tama County Democrats and drank a Pepsi before he took a tour through the Meskwaki Historical Exhibit. He and his wife Lisa spent several minutes speaking with longtime historian, Jonathan Buffalo. There was an ease to the exchange as it was the second visit to the Meskwaki Settlement. Both Bullock and his wife embraced Buffalo saying their goodbyes before answering questions from the press.

Bullock values the rich traditions of native tribes that goers can get a glimpse of by visiting powwows such as the Meskwaki annual powwow, he said. He also recognizes the unique needs and challenges of the community such as those of missing and murdered indigenous women. Meskwaki tribal member, Rita Papakee has been missing since 2015. She was last seen at the Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel on January 16, 2015.

“No family should have to go sometimes literally decades without justice being given,” said Bullock.

The next candidate to visit the powwow arena was Marianne Williamson. Born in Houston, Texas to an immigration lawyer father and homemaker mother, Williamson is a political outsider in the world of politics. However her presidential bid is not her first attempt to get her foot in the door. Williamson ran unsuccessfully in 2014 to California’s 33rd congressional district in the United State House of Representatives. Williamson is the author to 13 books, is an activist, humanitarian and entrepreneur.

T-R PHOTO BY Allison Graham
U.S. Senator and presidential candidate, Cory Booker speaks to the crowd at the 105th annual Meskwaki Powwow on Saturday, August 10. Also pictured are Larry Yazzie (left) and Christina Blackcloud (right).

Williamson spoke to the crowd from the speaker stand describing the U.S.’s main disease today as not knowing where we come from. Williamson spoke to several issues directly relating to native tribes including the oil pipeline. She shared her first task in office would be to remove the picture of Andrew Jackson from the oval office.

“One of the reasons I am running for presidents and one of the main decisions I have to be making as president is for a deeper level of spiritual healing in the United States of America. We cannot go forward as a nation until we are willing to clean up the past,” Williamson told the crowd.

Williamson also answered questions regarding missing and murdered indigenous women.

“Unfortunately that is not a single case, unfortunately there is a state of these cases and we know there are evil people that are actually taking advantage of the fact that they know ability to exercise criminal justice powers are diminished in some of these communities,” said Williamson.

Closing out the day was U.S. Senator, Cory Booker. Booker is in his first term as a U.S. Senator. Prior to that he was the 36th mayor of Newark from 2006-2013. Booker rose to prominence following the Brett Kavanaugh hearings as he sat on the Senate Judicial Committee. The New Jersey native has spoken out about racism, and attended a church service at Victory Missionary Baptist Church in Las Vegas where their pastor Rev. Robert Fowler Sr. referred to homosexuality as a sin according to the New York Post. Booker is and has been an avid supporter of LGBTQ rights throughout his career.

T-R PHOTO BY Allison Graham
U.S. Senator and presidential candidate, Cory Booker dances with a baby at the 105th annual Meskwaki Powwow on Saturday, August 10.

Booker has visited the state of Iowa eight times but it is his first visit to Tama County. Upon his arrival the mood in the crowd was noticeably more excited. Booker arrived dressed in dark jeans a black Champion polo and an infectious smile. He took countless selfies, shook hands, even danced around with a baby. He also was invited to join in on a family sponsored dance in remembrance of a member who had passed.

“I just want to give my respect to the community. I am grateful to be here today. I look forward to a nation where we honor all of our people,” he said.

Booker took a tour of the historical tent and then took some time to speak on issues related to native tribes.

“For me this is such an important part of American culture and American history to be able to understand the native communities that truly define this nation, our past, our present and our future,” Booker said.