Show don't tell: Pictures from the Iowa forum

Photo essay: Look at the behind-the-scenes of the Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum that took place in Iowa on Aug. 19 and 20.

Mark Trahant

The Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum in Sioux City, Iowa, is now history and nearly a dozen candidates, 10 Democrats and one Independent, made their way on stage to talk about their policy positions on issues impacting American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The sheer attention to these issues was unprecedented.

Some history: In 1976 the editor of Wasaja, Rubert Costo, wrote President Gerald Ford, and asked him about his Indian policy. He asked three questions that remain relevant: Should there be a cabinet-level Indian affairs department? How will healthcare reform impact the Indian health system? And since termination is over why not repeal some of the termination era legislation?

Costo wrote that “we operate quietly, but have a great influence upon grassroots Indian opinion.” He said that the next administration, indeed, every next administration, makes important decisions about Indian Country and that’s why candidates’ positions should be noted in advance.

That’s how it was in Iowa, too.

Every candidate talked about issues that don’t often get explored in a presidential campaign, treaty rights, Indian health, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Indian child welfare, even identity.

Four of the eleven candidates had the attendees on their feet: Senators Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders, as well as former Secretary Julián Castro, and Independent candidate Mark Charles, the first Navajo to run for president.

Several of the candidates answered questions that Costo once posed. Sen. Warren said it’s time to repeal Oliphant, a Supreme Court decision that stripped tribes of their law enforcement authority over non-Indian residents (a logic that comes directly out of the termination era).

All of the candidates pledged to fully fund the Indian health system and do more to protect Native women and to invest in data to get a more accurate accounting of the nature of the problem.

Several candidates, starting with Secretary Castro, revealed detailed plans about what they will do in Indian Country after taking office. Marianne Wiliamson said she’d start her administration by taking down the portrait of Andrew Jackson in the oval office.

Nearly every candidate was asked the first question by Marcella LaBeau from Cheyenne River, and a 99-year-old veteran of World War II. She was honored for her nursing work on the battlefield by the French government with a medal of honor. So her question is why does the United States still honor those soldiers who killed women and children and Wounded Knee?

And these answers were unanimous. Every candidate said we should rescind the medals of honor given to soldiers at Wounded Knee (the Remove the Stain Act).

What will happen next? A lot actually. The candidates left Iowa with a deeper understanding of Indian Country and that will serve them well no matter what they do next, be it President of the United States, or serve in the cabinet, on in Congress.

There is now a bar set on what candidates (and other office holders) will need to do to make the Remove the Stain Act the law.

What makes this certain is when you look at how far we’ve come since Rupert Costo wrote to Gerald Ford. Ford did not even bother to answer the Rupert Costo’s That era is over. Presidential candidates are now answering our questions and will be from now on.

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Media entrance at the Orpheum Theatre in Sioux City, Iowa, for the historic Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Reporter/Producer Kolby KickingWoman and Washington Editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye are about to depart Reagan National Airport. Meeting the team in Omaha, Nebraska.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Reporters/Producers Kolby KickingWoman and Aliyah Chavez meet in-person for the first time at the airport in Omaha.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
Indian Country Today Executive Producer Patty Talahongva is full of energy at the airport in Omaha, Nebraska.
Indian Country Today Executive Producer Patty Talahongva is full of energy at the airport in Omaha, Nebraska.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
Aliyah Chavez and Editor Mark Trahant quickly look over a story during breakfast on Aug. 18, the day before the forum and before a run through of the venue.
Aliyah Chavez and Editor Mark Trahant quickly look over a story during breakfast on Aug. 18, the day before the forum and before a run through of the venue.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
Patty Talahongva talks about the forum at the breakfast meeting in Sioux City, Iowa.
Patty Talahongva talks about the forum at the breakfast meeting in Sioux City, Iowa.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
team in front of theatre
In front the Orpheum theatre (waiting for Photojournalist Charlie Perry to arrive in the afternoon). (Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
Photojournalist Charlie Perry and Mark Trahant working in the hotel in the volunteer room.
Photojournalist Charlie Perry and Mark Trahant working in the hotel in the volunteer room.(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
Labeling all of the gear before the forum.
Labeling all of the gear before the forum.(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
Taylor Notah, editor of Turning Points Magazine, listens at the volunteer meeting the day before the forum.
Taylor Notah, editor of Turning Points Magazine, listens at the volunteer meeting the day before the forum.(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
Taylor Notah, editor of Turning Points Magazine, listens at the volunteer meeting the day before the forum.
<em>Taylor Notah, editor of Turning Points Magazine, listens at the volunteer meeting the day before the forum.</em>(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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<em>Taylor Notah, editor of Turning Points Magazine, listens at the volunteer meeting the day before the forum.</em>(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
Orpheum theatre
The theatre marquee showing the forum information.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
Editor Mark Trahant observing the lobby and jokingly says, "We should have one of these in the office."
Editor Mark Trahant observing the lobby and jokingly says, "We should have one of these in the office."(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
Indian Country Today Editor Mark Trahant moderated the Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum.
Indian Country Today Editor Mark Trahant moderated the Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
An empty theatre. The day before the storm.
An empty theatre. The day before the storm.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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OJ Semans, Mark Trahant, and Judith LeBlanc take questions from the press the day before the forum.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Lycia, communications director for the National Congress of American Indians, talks about the logistics with Mark Trahant.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
The team setting up the lights and backstage back and repeat for the exclusive interviews with candidates.
The team setting up the lights and backstage back and repeat for the exclusive interviews with candidates.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Charlie Perry and Kolby KickingWoman backstage trying out the back and repeat.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Ruth Buffalo, the first Native Democratic woman elected to the <em>North Dakota</em> Legislature, takes photos the day before the forum.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Testing out the lights and back and repeat.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Judith LeBlanc, director of the Native Organizers Alliance, stands for photos on the eve of the forum.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
Mark Trahant holds the light for photos on the eve of the forum. (The team was looking for the tripod.)
Mark Trahant holds the light for photos on the eve of the forum. (The team was looking for the tripod.)(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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Patty Talahongva and Charlie Perry talking about locations to interview Mark Trahant.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
Presidential candidate entrance for the forum.
Presidential candidate entrance for the forum.(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
Patty Talahongva and Charlie Perry interviewing Mark Trahant.
Patty Talahongva and Charlie Perry interviewing Mark Trahant.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Patty Talahongva giving Mark Trahant his cue.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
The team watching the interview.
The team watching the interview.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
Antonia Gonzales and Rhonda LeValdo of National Native News on stage on the eve of the forum.
Antonia Gonzales and Rhonda LeValdo of National Native News on stage on the eve of the forum.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Antonia Gonzales and Rhonda LeValdo of National Native News, hug Aliyah Chavez.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Ruth Buffalo taking photos.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Photojournalist Charlie Perry who helped with video editing at the forum.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Antonia Gonzales testing out the Mevo with Lycia and Mark Trahant in the background.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Charlie Perry capturing b-roll.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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An empty theatre.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Kolby KickingWoman telling Patty Talahongva and Charlie Perry who he is covering during the forum.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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The team having some lunch the day before the forum.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Washington Editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye interviewing Rep. Deb Haaland, D-New Mexico, at Sen. Elizabeth Warren's campaign office in Sioux City, Iowa.(Photo by Aliyah Chavez)
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Rep. Deb Haaland recording a campaign message for Sen. Elizabeth Warren.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Rep. Deb Haaland and Aliyah Chavez talking about Chavez's late uncle, Everett Chavez of Kewa Pueblo, who used to be one of the 20 governors on the All Indian Pueblo of Governors. Haaland knew him from his work and told Chavez he would be the first to help with the forum.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Kolby KickingWoman sharing his WiFi hotspot with Mark Trahant before the forum started on Aug. 19.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Kolby KickingWoman helping Charlie Perry test out the lighting and camera angle on the morning of the forum.(Photo by Charlie Perry)
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Patty Talahongva holds the photo to Charlie Perry to say hi to Associate Editor Vincent Schilling. Perry was testing out the lights and camera angle on the morning of the forum.(Photo by Charlie Perry)
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Author Marianne Williamson taking questions from the press in the media room.(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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Marcella LaBeau, 99-year-old World World II veteran, asked the first question to presidential candidates. She asked Marianne Williamson if she would support the "Remove the Stain Act."(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Reporter/Producer Aliyah Chavez interviews Marianne Williamson backstage.(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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<em>Reporter/Producer Aliyah Chavez interviews Marianne Williamson backstage.</em>(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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Joe Sestak was one of the 11 presidential candidates to participate in the forum.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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After getting mic'd up, Joe Sestak talks about the beaded bracelet he was wearing.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Aliyah Chavez interviewed Joe Sestak backstage.(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Aliyah Chavez and Kolby KickingWoman are hard at work.(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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Rep. Deb Haaland, D-New Mexico, talks about the legislative proposal she and Sen. Elizabeth Warren collaborated on. Haaland also introduced Warren at the forum.(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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Washington Editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye interviews presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren.(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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<em>Washington Editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye interviews presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren.</em>(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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<em>Turning Points Magazine Editor Taylor Notah interviews presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren.</em>(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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Sen. Elizabeth Warren stops for a baby backstage.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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<em>Sen. Elizabeth Warren stops to take a picture with a baby backstage.</em>(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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<em>Sen. Elizabeth Warren stops to take a picture with a baby and her parents backstage.</em>(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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<em>Sen. Elizabeth Warren stops to take a picture with a baby and her parents backstage.</em>(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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<em>Jourdan Bennett-Begaye interviews the family after taking pictures with Sen. Elizabeth Warren.</em>(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Cheryl Andrews-Maltais chairwoman of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Aquinnah in Massachusetts, and Rep. Deb Haaland.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Deb Haaland.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Aliyah Chavez interviews Gov. Steve Bullock via livestream.(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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<em>Aliyah Chavez interviews Gov. Steve Bullock via livestream.</em>(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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Charlie Perry capturing b-roll in the theatre lobby.(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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Indian Country Team working hard in the media room.(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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Kolby KickingWoman points to the camera.(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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Kolby KickingWoman interviews Amy Klobuchar.(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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<em>Kolby KickingWoman interviews Amy Klobuchar.</em>(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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Amy Klobuchar answering questions from the press in the media room.(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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Aliyah Chavez smiles at the camera in the media room.(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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Female Native journalists (with a few missing).(Photo by Charlie Perry)
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Jourdan Bennett-Begaye interviews Mark Charles, the first Navajo presidential candidate. Both are Navajo.(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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<em>Jourdan Bennett-Begaye interviews Mark Charles, the first Navajo presidential candidate. Both are Navajo.</em>(Photo by Aliyah Chavez)
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Mark Charles takes a photo with Native youth backstage.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Mark Charles backstage.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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A photo opportunity with Mark Charles.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Forum Moderator and Indian Country Today Editor Mark Trahant.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Mark Trahant on screen.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Patty Talahongva smiling for the camera while she watches a presidential candidate take questions in the media room.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Aliyah Chavez and Mark Trahant working hard.(Photo by Patty Talahongva)
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Kolby KickingWoman interviews John Delaney.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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<em>Kolby KickingWoman interviews John Delaney. Before the interview, Delaney talked about how people should know that New Jersey is called the Garden State.</em>Kolby KickingWoman interviews John Delaney.
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John Delaney takes questions from the press in the media room.(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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Julián Castro on stage with panelists.(Photo by Taylor Notah)
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(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
charlie meeting castro
(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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castro and tribal leader - jbb
(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
castro talking with ppl backstage - jbb
(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
castro with fan - jbb
(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
castro with native youth - jbb
(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
castro with MMIW - jbb
(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
castro with kid - jbb
(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
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(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
media room crowd - jbb
mark trahant and bernie shaking hands
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ruth buffalo phone and bernie sanders - jbb
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mark trahant and bernie on stage - jbb
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patty and native youth - jbb
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patty listening to interview - jbb
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patty listening to interview - jbb
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jarrette on screen - jbb
OJ and volunteers on stage - jbb
ICT team in newsroom - antonia g
signing backstage - jbb
Comments (3)
No. 1-3
feathers
feathers

the photos and the article are outstanding, way to Go to Mark and everyone at Indian country today for their great coverage of the form.

Skookum
Skookum

Fantastic job-watched live and archives, really appreciated it. I anticipate your Anchorage tv move in future as well.

Smacmill52
Smacmill52

This event was great. By gaining the attention of the presidential candidates, it brought attention to the tribes. There are two ways to think about Elizabeth Warren - #1 she is a flawed person for falling for that old family lore story, #2 by carrying the baggage of that mistake ( and for sure the president is not going to let anyone forget about it) at least the issue of Native Americans will be mentioned. I have watched so many conversations on TV about racism, and rarely are Native Americans even mentioned.