A Native American election forum in Atlanta to lure Senators Raphael Warnock and Stacey Abrams

Four Directions Native Vote, a nonpartisan Native American voting rights organization, is hosting a Native American voter forum in Atlanta, Georgia, on Monday and Tuesday. Joining Four Directions will allow tribal leaders across the state to host candidates for the midterm elections in November.

The forum will be held at ZuCot Gallery in Atlanta, offering candidates the opportunity to engage with the issues most important to Native communities in Georgia and throughout Indian Country.

On Monday, gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) will participate individually in a question-and-answer session moderated by Four Directions co-founder and co-executive director OJ Semans, Sr. (Rosebud Sioux).

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“Times have changed since we went to war to defend our way of life, our treaties and our tribal sovereignty. We must now protect our communities and our rights by going to the polls to vote,” said Semans, Sr.. “We believe that voting is part of our sacred circle when it comes to preserving our way of life. We are committed to full emancipation as a crucial means of navigating towards a stronger future for our Indigenous communities. Indigenous issues and candidate forums catalyzed Indigenous voter participation in 2020 and we know they have the power to do so again in 2022.”

Four Directions estimates that there are approximately 146,000 Native Americans of voting age living in Georgia. In 2020, the presidential election was decided by a margin of less than 12,000 voters. While Native voter turnout is trending up nationwide, there is no doubt that Native voters have the power to decide the outcome of every statewide election in Georgia.

Immediately before each keynote address, a panel of tribal leaders from across Indian Country will offer insight into the far-reaching impact of Georgia’s election results. The two panels, “Impact on Indian Country: The Native Vote in Georgia” and “A Friend to Indian Country: Why State Governors Matter,” will highlight the interconnectedness of Indian Country and every congressional and gubernatorial election. . Voters will learn important factors to consider before voting.

Former Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) is set to open day two with a virtual address talking about the importance of voting. Following Heitkamp’s speech, members of the public and members of the press have the opportunity to engage with congressional candidates from both major parties during a series of question and answer sessions. One of the main functions of this event is to support candidates through education and conversation about flagship Indigenous-specific public policies – a new area of ​​learning for many.

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Melvin B. Baillie