Governor Culver has appointed 11 Iowans who will serve on the state’s first commission dedicated entirely to investigating issues facing Native Americans. The executive director of the Sioux City Civil Rights Commission, Karen Mackey, is one of the appointees to the Iowa Commission on Native American Affairs.
Mackey says finding adequate housing in good repair concerns many Native Americans, especially when landlords renege on promises to replace windows and clean up property. "They pay a down payment in good faith thinking those things are going to happen and then nothing is done and the landlord allegedly refuses to make any repairs once they’ve gotten their money from them," Mackey said.
An estimated 11,000 Native Americans live in Iowa, with census estimates pointing toward more than 14,300 by 2030. Mackey belongs to the Santee Sioux tribe of Nebraska and says she knows what it feels like to live in fear because of being a minority.
"When I was in law school, I was stalked and harassed by an upper class person for about a year," Mackey said. "It was severe enough that my brother actually bought me a handgun." The other 10 commission members also belong to various tribes. Mackey says the commission will hold public hearings and eventually draft a report aimed at improving the lives of Iowa’s Native Americans.