Nebraska Delegate Lexie LaMere Stands Up for Native American Community
By IAN MARTINES / DEMCONVENTION.com / August 27, 2012
Lexie LaMere, a Nebraska delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention, was already a Senate Page at age sixteen. While walking with a friend through the halls of the Capitol, she caught sight of the late Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, fixated with rapt attention at his own portrait. It wasn’t an unusual occurrence, in fact, since the Senator had been known to do just that on many occasions. But Lexie was surprised on that day in 2008 to hear Senator Byrd summon her and her peer.
“What do you see?” he asked the young women.
“You?” Lexie replied, uncertainly.
“Then you’re not looking close enough,” the Senator continued. “In this picture is my life story. Everything I’ve ever fought for.” After a pause he continued. “Never forget who you are, what you’re fighting for,” he said, and walked off to his office. The two girls continued to stare, searching for meaning in the elder statesman’s words. After a time, Lexie noticed a tiny picture frame within the larger portrait. Inside it was a painting of Byrd’s recently deceased wife of almost 70 years, Erma.
Recalling her time in the Senate, Lexie says, “When you see those Senators who really understand they’re there for the people, for the places they represent, you remember where you came from, and you remember what you’re fighting for. If you have a dream and a goal, and you know what you stand for, you’re always going to stand up for what’s right.”
Lexie knows where she comes from and what she stands for. Today, at age twenty and a student at Creighton University, she’s already a convention delegate and a community activist for Native Americanissues in Nebraska. The daughter of two devoted activists and longtime Democrats, Lexie has been to every single Democratic National Convention in her lifetime, starting in 1992 when she accompanied her parents at two months old. “I was raised on politics my whole life,” she says.
Lexie, of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, cites her father Frank LaMere as a hero for his work in global indigenous peoples’ issues for over two decades. His work has spanned from Reverend Jessie Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition in 1988 to advocacy for the destitute on Pine Ridge Reservation, and to international advocacy for indigenous peoples in Ecuador, Taiwan, and Libya. “There’s a connection between native people all over the world,” Lexie says, reasoning that her major in international relations actually complements her passion for issues in the Native community. One thing she shares with both of her parents, she adds, is that she’s “trying to bring a voice to those people who don’t know there’s a great big world out there.”
After six conventions as a guest, it’s finally Lexie’s turn to help create the party’s platform. While she is looking forward to participating in the Convention’s Rural Development Council, which she sees as “very important to the state of Nebraska,” her biggest desire is to contribute meaningfully to the Native American Council.
Already, Lexie has started a group to address alcoholism and crime in Whiteclay, Nebraska, a small town of 14 that sits on the border of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Lexie and Frank have already won unanimous support for a Whiteclay resolution at the Nebraska Democratic Convention, and Lexie is aiming to make a similar resolution part of the national platform.
She knows where she’s from, and at the age of twenty, Lexie LaMere certainly knows what she’s fighting for.