“We are betting that you will vote, you progressives, conscious & socially evolving, you Natives, young people, all you who are ignored by politics & have ignored voting because politicians are completely detached from us.”
~ Chase Iron Eyes
Robert Holden, Deputy Director, National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), has said Native American turnout in presidential elections was typically—the lowest of any ethnic group.
Mark Trahant, a professor of journalism at the University of North Dakota and researcher/writer of Trahaunt Report blog recently said 83 Native Americans candidates running for state offices was about double the typical election number. Five (5) Native Americans in federal races was, he believed, unprecedented, although it is impossible to be sure as reliable national records are scarce.
The Guardian recently reported on Native American campaigns:
“In North Dakota, Chase Iron Eyes is running as a Democrat for the state’s only US House seat. An attorney and Native rights activist, Iron Eyes has burst into the public consciousness amid the uproar over the Dakota Access Pipeline, as an outspoken member of the Standing Rock Sioux, the tribe at the center of the protests.
When the federal government ordered a temporary halt to construction on the pipeline, a little over a week ago, Iron Eyes said the issue went beyond indigenous interests over threats to water supplies and implicated “systems that assume the Earth’s resources are limitless”. He also pointed out that members of 140 tribes had been counted at the protest camp: a huge turnout.
[*That count is now reported to be over 200 Tribes at the writing of this article, including international tribes from as far away as Amazon-based tribal protector participants.]
In April, when Iron Eyes was chosen to run for Congress, he said he aimed to defeat his Republican opponent by mobilizing the Native American vote “like never before” and reaching out to people who feel “neglected” by the government.
In July Iron Eyes wrote “Vote. It’s the people versus money, that’s it. We are in the most critical time and each of us matter, each of us must find it within us to care, to pay attention & accept nothing less than our best effort.”
More recently Iron Eyes has said,
“It’s a whirlwind w/no rest. My campaign consumed me before the #NoDAPL fight. Things happen for a reason, take action, vote, or stay stagnant.”
Trahant recently weighed in on Native American voting:
“On social media and in real life we hear this often: “What can I do to help Standing Rock?” Some answer the question by donating money, many send supplies, and hundreds of people jump in their car and travel to the camps near Cannonball, North Dakota. Once there folks pray, some engage in direct action, and all of us learn more about the challenges facing humanity.
There is something else that can be done: Vote.
Chase Iron Eyes, who is running for Congress from North Dakota, made that point on his web page this week. “I don’t believe North Dakota is racist, a certain percentage of the ReTrumplicans are—but we can vote them out—if you would only vote,” he wrote. “The majority of us are evolving in mutual respect. That’s our North Dakota.”
The congressional race is a stark example of these various differences: The incumbent, Rep. Kevin Cramer, wrote a position paper for Donald Trump that says any new climate policy should not “punish coal” or other fossil fuels. The Republican considers himself a climate change skeptic dismissing both international commitments made by the United States and the mountain of scientific evidence.
But is this a moment when North Dakotans are open to a change? And, is there an evolving majority beyond North Dakota? How many allies are out there? How many people are ready for a significant policy shift when it comes to energy?
The answers depend on how many people stand in line at polls, vote by mail, and cast a ballot.
If it’s a yes, or a hell yes, this could be the most significant organizing moment in American history.”