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Friday, July 25, 2008

Democratic Convention Gets a Native American Blessing

By Jonathan Weisman
The Democratic National Convention has had its share of problems, what with a compressed schedule between voter selection of the candidate and his actual nomination, splintered fundraising concerns and a late scramble to prepare a new location for Barack Obama's acceptance speech.

But now, at least, the gathering has been blessed on high.

The Democratic National Convention Committee announced today that members of the Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute Indian tribes of Colorado performed a Native American blessing outside the Pepsi Center in Denver, where the convention will open Aug. 25. Chants were chanted, songs sung, prayers prayed and sage burned. A feather was used to "smudge" the smoke around the site.

"With all that goes into planning a Convention, there is tremendous value in spiritual grounding in the home stretch. Our Native American brothers and sisters have a deep understanding of spirituality and its place in our lives," said DNCC CEO Leah Daughtry. "The rich Native American traditions of the West are an important part of our country's history and will be an important part of this historic Convention -- set to open right here in just one month's time."

The convention has been so strapped for cash that the Obama campaign has been quietly chipping in to make sure the facilities will be in order, according to organizers. Obama Deputy Campaign Manager Steve Hildebrand said the Democrats have faced a three-fold crunch: the time between Obama's clinching the primaries and the start of the convention, the fact that most conventions raise the majority of their funds in the host city and that Denver is a relatively small host town, and the campaign's decision to shift the nominee's acceptance speech to Invesco Field at Mile High, necessitating preparations for a whole new arena.

But, he said, organizers have had a good couple of weeks.

"The money will be in place before the convention," he said.

And today, Democrats had more important things on their minds.

"In one month, there will be talk of Democrats, Republicans, politics and polls," said Frank LaMere, chairman of the Democratic National Committee's Native American Caucus, in a statement. "However, I offer that the Creator cares most about heart, commitment, and those who will give voice and care for the people, and who will change things in our country."

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