Meeting with Sen. Elect John Hoeven’s Chief of Staff

At 7 am, Wednesday Dec. 15th, my 18-year-old son, Timothy, and I

Senator-elect John Hoeven
Senator-elect John Hoeven

 headed out to Bismarck to meet with Sen. Elect Hoeven’s Chief of Staff, Don Larson at 11 am. Although the sky was cloudy, the roads were clear. About half way into the trip, I became a little concerned as light flurries began. But the weather report indicated things should get better, so we kept going. From there, the roads varied between light snow-pack and wet. About an hour later, as I topped a slight hill, the bright red brake lights of a semi truck confronted me. Stepping on my brakes, our car began to slide on slick black ice. Pumping and counter turning, it began to fishtail. Not wanting to go into a spin, I avoided the semi and let us skid into the ditch.

Timothy says he’s just glad he wasn’t the one that was driving.

About a half mile ahead of us, a mini-van had spun out of control and flipped. To avoid hitting it, a semi jack-knifed and blocked the road. A second semi managed to stop, and that’s the one we came up behind.

I got out of our tiny Saturn, which was deep in snow and now pointing back east, and went to the road to wave the cars coming up the hill to slow down. Several drivers, seeing the wreck ahead of them, thought traffic would be stuck there for a couple hours. I have to admire North Dakota response. The police and a sanding dump truck took only minutes to arrive. The dump truck immediately assisted in moving the semi and managed to get it off the road. A path was cleared for traffic to move in less than fifteen minutes. It was amazing.

Unfortunately, we, the only car in the ditch, weren’t among the vehicles leaving.

By the time we were pulled out, it was too late to make the meeting. But I had called by quarter to and made arrangements for a conference call the next day.

So what of all the prayers people were praying for us concerning the meeting that day? Timothy and I are fine. The car is fine. Considering we could have ended up a fixture on the rear of a semi, that’s answer to prayer.

And – prior to the call the next day, I had a chance to relax and go over in my mind what I wanted to say… what I wanted Senator Hoeven to gain from this meeting.

I began by introducing myself and giving him my background as the wife and mother of enrolled members of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe.

I stated the issue concerning us, and then said, “While the Indian Child Welfare Act is embraced by tribal government, it has hurt many multi-racial children and families across the United States.”

I then quoted from a parent letter, told him a couple stories, and went on from there. I had talking points in front of me, and was able to go point by point quickly and easily. No stuttering, no flusters. Mr. Larson was attentive and kind.  The call went very well. I followed up with an email to him, thanking him for the call and attaching additional information for him, including our legislative draft.

Hmmm… Maybe I should do all our meetings by conference call…

Thanks so much for your support!

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