Carina Miller grew up in Senate District 30 living in the Warm Springs Indian Reservation near Madras and now runs as the Democratic nominee for a chance to continue serving the communities in the district.
Miller said, while growing up in rural Oregon on the reservation, she recognized there were many issues in the district that were not dealt with that continue to be ignored.
“With things like Black Lives Matter, it’s important now more than ever to have leadership that aren’t just going to acknowledge but address these issues,” Miller said. “It’s everything across the board that needs attention, and its not getting it.”
Miller listed climate change as another issue that is not getting the attention it deserves. She was a supporter of the Clean Energy Jobs Bill, and was elected on the Warm Springs Tribal Council during this time.
The lack of advocacy from the local representatives when they were in Salem and how information was disseminated regarding the bill was frustrating to Miller because she said it was not an accurate portrayal of the people they were representing or the bill presented.
Miller worked as a social worker and educator and worked directly with children and family and saw how this impacted them.
“That’s where my passion for running for office comes from because I worked with people directly that were impacted by the lack of resources,” Miller said. “Our local economies haven’t been thriving, and the things that are being supported are more benefiting for corporate people, and they’re not benefiting families and humans who live in this district.”
Miller said her background and work as an educator, social worker, earning a degree in ethnic studies, being the energy committee co-chair for the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and serving as the chair of the Native caucus for the Democratic Party of Oregon gives her a unique experience that current and past senators never had.
“I am running because I care about this district, and I care about all the people, and I know I have the experience to actually pass bills that will have a positive impact on everybody,” Miller said.
A goal that Miller has is to pass a carbon bill that doesn’t leave out the counties that were cut in the recent edit so counties in the district could have access to funds to deal with utility costs and electricity. She would also like to look at education and Senate Bill 13.
Senate Bill 13, now known as Tribal History/Shared History, directs the Oregon Department of Education to create K-12 Native American Curriculum for inclusion in Oregon public schools, according to Oregon’s state website.
She said tribes are currently developing the curriculum, but the ethnic studies bill only had appropriation for those standards. It still needs to be pushed forward to receive funding for professional development.
She also wants to look at funding issues related to the Public Employee Retirement System through tax reform.
“The solution is tax reform, and nobody wants to just say it,” Miller said. “Those are the kind of things I want to work on so we can stop focusing on these areas that take up all of our time in legislature asking ‘Where is tax revenue going to come from?’ when we can start looking at how we can transition from an extractive natural resource economy in rural Oregon to a sustainable one and decentralize services that are more affordable for families.”
Miller said COVID-19 is a hard situation due to the uncertainty with the virus, but she hopes communities prioritize helping other people first, follow guidance from science officials and recognize that leaders can be united in moving forward with the coronavirus.
Miller added she knows there are many people who aren’t taking COVID-19 seriously, and she doesn’t want to disrespect their opinions because as an indigenous woman, she recognizes that sometimes the government misrepresents what they’re really doing. However, she added people need to also understand what people have lost due to the pandemic.
Warm Springs has experienced lost lives due to the pandemic, including the wife of the Warm Springs chief, according to Miller.
“We need to be responsible leaders and acknowledge the pain that has happened,” Miller said. “I just want it to be clear that the whole picture is shown of how native communities are at a higher rate, being disproportionately impacted, and that’s not being addressed at all by our representation here.”
Miller said, when it comes to topics like racism, humanities and supporting immigrants who are neighbors, she will take a stand and address these topics.
“I’m very well versed, and I want to put my best foot forward, and I think if you look at my work that’s always been reflected,” Miller said. “I have been prepared by my community, by my grandparents, by my tribal elders and co-leaders on council. They taught me and got me ready, and I have a lot of actual work that proves I am ready to make the changes for this district, changes they deserve.”