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Melinda Gopher

By October 7, 2009No Comments

Melinda Gopher

Dear President Obama,

In honor of Citizenship Day, I ask you to hold true to your promise of challenging unjust laws that make us unequal. I am an Ojibwe from Missoula, Montana. I have been a community organizer and civil rights activist for over half of my life. I am here to support the need for an end to health disparities and for responsible and meaningful health care reform.

I want to thank everybody who worked to make this Citizenship Day event possible. I am truly humbled and awed by their dedication, effort, unity and sincerity. We truly stand as one here today.

This proposed legislation, by the Senate Finance Committee, in its current state, will create the very structural inequality you detest—for countless Americans from every walk of life. I appeal to you to remember the children and future generations, who have the right to prosperity, liberty, and equality. I speak hear today for the silent.

I dedicate my speech to a lovely young lady who was buried yesterday, Elmina Gopher Eagleman, and died on September 12, 2009. She died from lack of proper mental health counseling and resources; she took her own life. This is a needless tragedy that health disparities create. Montana Native Americans have the highest suicide rate of any group in the nation. The first people of this nation need effective reform that is inclusive of our new reality; a growing urban experience and diminishing care.

Dear President, be the change you seek; as you have often exalted us to be. Gitchi Manitou—(pity us).

Melinda Gopher
Missoula, Montana

The Choice Before Us: Letters to President Obama is also available in PDF format. Edited and compiled by the Center for Community Change, Northwest Federation of Community
and National Korean American Service & Education Consortium.