A wealth of Native politicians in North Dakota.
This is Trahant Reports.
Over the years several Native American candidates have run and won statewide office. This year that’s happening again … times three.
Byron Mallott is Lt. Gov. in Alaska. Denise Juneau is Montana’s superintendent of public instruction. And Larry EchoHawk was the attorney general of Idaho.
That context is important because it’s a huge challenge to win across an entire state.
This year North Dakota has three Native American candidates running for statewide office.
Chase Iron Eyes is campaigning for North Dakota’s only seat in Congress. Ruth Buffalo is seeking the post of Insurance Commissioner. And Marlo Hunte-Beaubrun is contesting a seat on the three-member Public Services Commission. All are running as Democrats.
Count ’em: Three statewide campaigns.
IronEyes is an attorney, founder of Last Real Indians, and Standing Rock Sioux.
Buffalo is a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes. She is working toward “sustainable solutions to the tough problems that face Native people and nations.” She told local newspapers that there was no special effort to get so many Native Americans on the ballot but we’re “human beings who have a vested interest in our state>’
Hunte-Beaubrun has filed to run against the current chairman of the Public Service Commission, Julie Fedorchak. Hunte-Beaubrun is a Standing Rock Sioux tribal member and has a background in economic development.
The Public Service Commission regulates the oil and gas industry as well as telecommunications, weights and measures, and even pipelines.
Perhaps there is something in that North Dakota water.
In addition to the statewide races, longtime educator David Gipp is running for the North Dakota state Senate. Gipp was president and then chancellor of the United Tribes Technical College and is one of the founders of the school. He is Standing Rock Sioux.
Another Three Affiliated Tribal Member, Cesar Alvarez, is running for the state House of Representatives.
Two more ND legislative candidates who are enrolled members of federally recognized tribes: Are House candidate Cheryl Ann Kary (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe)
and Senate candidate Steve Allard (a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.)
So let’s add up the numbers: That’s three statewide and four district offices in a state that’s just under 6 percent American Indian. At a recent meeting of the Democratic Party, Iron Eyes said the Native American vote would have to be mobilized like never before.
It’s been said that 2016 is an outsider’s election. And you cannot get any more “outsider” than a Native American running as a general-interest candidate. North Dakota voters are putting that idea to the test.
I am Mark Trahant reporting.