Letter to the Editor
On October 2nd, the Tama-Toledo News published a letter to the editor written by Joyce Wiese. Ms. Wiese implied I would not represent our community well because I’m a Native American woman. Thank you, Joyce, for providing me this opportunity to educate.
I’d like to set the record straight. First, I am a homeowner in Tama. I pay state, federal, and local taxes. Second, the Meskwaki Settlement accounts for only 1.3% of the total acreage in Tama County. Yet, it brings a direct economic impact to the county by employing 15.6% of its residents. It accounts for $20 million in purchases to Iowa vendors and brings $1.5 million in revenue to the area from in and out-of-state visitors annually. (Source: Tama County Economic Development Commission Report Published Sept 5, 2011.)
I’d like to provide some history of the tribe of which I am a member.
Indigenous people were forcibly and violently removed from all lands west of the Mississippi through the “Indian Removal Act of 1830.” The Meskwaki people found refuge in Iowa, as Iowa allowed indigenous people to purchase land.
I have deep roots in the Tama area. Those who found refuge are my ancestors, and we made Iowa our home. We built lives here, raised families, and created jobs.
Today, as the largest employer in Tama County, the Meskwaki Nation contributes a great deal to the area’s economy. The Tribe recruits and trains local people and provides generous health care plans to its workers. The Meskwaki Nation has supported the community by becoming an emergency shelter location during emergency events, continued to pay its workforce during the COVID-19 quarantine, and supports initiatives locally through donations.
Ms. Wiese’s letter also seems to imply that my tribe lacks patriotism. To the contrary, Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people have served in the military side by side. Native Americans have sacrificed, been wounded, and died in service of the United States. My Grandfather served in World War II. Meskwaki Code Talkers served the interests of the United States by using their tribal language as a military tool to fight for this country.
America was built from many cultures with people from many nations. It feels disrespectful to imply because I am Native American, I only care about Native Americans. I respect your culture and ask that you please respect mine.
As a representative for Iowa, I’ll represent all the people of the district, not just the Indigenous community. I believe that there are no limits to what people can accomplish when they work together to solve problems. I intend to be a new voice for our ENTIRE district, not just as a republican, or a democrat, or a Native American, but as a leader for what is right and just.
I understand the complexities of Tribal, State, and Federal governments and this understanding will be of great value as state representative. I will be focusing on issues, not skin color. Quite honestly, this is why I’m the best candidate to represent HD72.