haʔł sləx̌il. Lorraine Basch tsidsdaʔ
Good day. My name is Lorraine Basch.
I was born in Seattle, Washington and I am Puyallup, Coeur d’Alene, and Clatsop-Nehalem. My mother is Roberta Basch, and father is Richard Basch. My ancestors have called the Pacific Northwest region of what is now the United States home since time immemorial.
Being of the water, it isn’t easy living in the concrete jungle of Baltimore. But I’ve found a reason to be here. Since the 2016 elections, we have seen a familiar yet unsettling lack of commitment by the Federal Government to uphold its treaty and trust obligations to tribal Nations. This upcoming presidential election presents an opportunity to change that. As a young Native woman, I believe I’ve found the candidate who will stand next to me and my community in the fight for justice. That woman is Senator Kamala Harris.
History was made during the August 19 and 20 Frank LaMere Presidential Forum, when many tribal leaders gathered to hear presidential candidates speak directly about issues facing Indian Country. Representing less than two percent of our country’s population, Native Americans have traditionally been overlooked by front running candidates, and left to watch voiceless from the sidelines. On this historic day, our voices were heard and the attention was on us. It was a recognition of the electoral strength that hides within Indian Country. We are watching.
During the forum, Senator Harris and the honorable tribal leaders discussed many of the reasons why she is my candidate but in their short time together they were only able to scratch the surface of the reasons I’m proud to work for Senator Harris. Throughout the debates, Senate committee hearings and her time on the campaign trail, the Senator has shown the world why she is the right choice for prosecuting the case against four more years of Donald Trump. The woman that can prosecute the case against another term of this administration is the one we need to prosecute cases on behalf of the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG). The relentless search for due process demands criminal justice reform in Indian Country, and Kamala will be the one to help “Bring her home.”
Throughout Indian Country, citizens, administrators, and leaders are paving the way for solutions regarding environmental preservation, cultural resources, and holistic healthcare. These issues would go unanswered if it were not for the expertise and ancestral knowledge within our communities. As the first attorney general to open access to criminal history databases for Tribal Police Departments, Harris has already shown action that supports tribal self-determination.
Being from a community that has been swallowed by the city, Senator Harris’ commitment to taking on violent crime means a lot to me. Our children deserve to know they have hope and that they are loved. Our communities deserve the support necessary to foster programs to protect one of our most vulnerable populations. During her time as the San Francisco District Attorney, Harris’ Back on Track program became a Department of Justice model for anti-recidivism. Her anti-recidivism work reflects the value she puts on the individual’s role in a community and her belief in redemption and second chances.
Senator Harris recognized the role of Native Nations as the keepers of the land when she said, “as the original people, and always as leaders on this issue of what we need to do to respect and honor the climate and the earth and all that is on it, I will look to you for leadership.” The relationship between Natives and the land is inherent. She recognizes that tribal Nations have a deeper understanding of how this country can ensure the earth is protected for generations to come and must therefore be recognized as leaders in national conservation efforts.
During the Frank Lamere presidential forum, Senator Harris was introduced by OJ Semsan, who highlighted Indian Country’s desire for equality, and to be heard. Senator Harris has done just that. By sitting with tribal leaders during this campaign, has shown she will take the concerns of Indian country and prioritize them in her administration.
As I sit here surrounded by concrete and the beep-beeps of east coast drivers, I keep the memory of my grandfather — my sapa — with me. I picture him on his river. The river where my ancestors have fished since time immemorial, and where my grandfather fought for his rights to be a regular man. He fought to feed his family, and to follow the teachings of his grandfather by fishing on his river. My grandfather might not have considered himself an activist, but that humble man fought next to his family and his community in order to maintain our most basic rights. Much like him, Kamala is a fighter. She is intelligent. She is FEARLESS.
Take care of yourself.
Lorraine Basch is a citizen of the Puyallup Nation and is Coeur d’Alene, and Clatsop-Nehalem. She is a Human Resources Associate and Executive Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer for Kamala Harris for the People. Before joining the Campaign, Lorraine worked at the Aspen Institute's Center for Native American Youth. She previously served at the National Congress of American Indians as the Policy Associate and Special Assistant to the Executive Director.