WASHINGTON –The man from Hope does not provide much hope for American Indians in the next presidential election. Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas from Hope, Arkansas called American Indians “bad guys” during his presidential bid announcement earlier this week.
The following Huckabee quote from his announcement speech has caused a stern reply from the National Congress of American Indians:
“When I hear our current president say he wants Christians to get off their high horse so we can make nice with radical jihadists, I wonder if he can watch a Western from the ‘50s and be able to figure out who the good guys and the bad guys really are.”
“This week I learned about Governor Huckabee’s speech announcing his candidacy for U.S. President and was dismayed to hear him compare Native Americans to jihadists,” responded Brian Cladoosby, president of the National Congress of American Indians. There are many things we have left behind from the 1950’s, including overt racism and sexism. We hope that the old trope of the Indians as the bad guys in Western movies is also left behind. It is hurtful when public officials use stereotypes of Indians as the “bad guys.” Even if it is a metaphorical expression, racial stereotypes should be avoided. It is particularly hurtful to suggest that Americans should reflexively identify images of Native people defending our homelands as the “bad guys.”
Cladoosby went on the say this presents an opportunity to educate.
“Native Americans are the most committed to our shared homeland. Nearly 24,000 American Indians are currently serving in the U.S. Military, and there are an estimated 383,000 American Indian and Alaska Native military veterans. According to the Oxford Companion to American Military History, American Indians have the highest record of military service per capita compared to any other group in the United States. “Governor Huckabee is at the beginning of his campaign, and one of the great things about political campaigns is that they are an opportunity for all of us to learn. It is the exchange of ideas that makes our democracy great. I hope to add to that effort in a small way by encouraging the candidates to respect Native Americans and our contributions to the history and culture of the United States, both past and present,” Cladoosby continued.