Both campaigns are reaching out to Indian Country in the final days of the 2020 presidential election.
This is Trahant Reports.
The Trump campaign had an outdoor rally in Arizona last week. It’s a coalition of Native Americans for Trump, and the speaker was Donald Trump Jr. He talked about camping and fly fishing in the region and meeting with Navajo elders.
Those supporters credit the Trump administration with moving forward with the task force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives, funding in the Corona Virus Relief Act; funding for public safety, as well as recognition of the several tribes, including Montana’s Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa.
In general the Trump supporters say that the Trump administration is a better bet for economic development.
As Shawn Redd, a Navajo who has run for Congress, told Indian Country Today, Native values fit well within the GOP. “Navajo people are very conservative by nature. They believe in a lot of things that the Republican platform embraces, such as strong family ties, self-reliance and liberty,” he said.
This latest move by the GOP comes late. Democrats, on the other hand, began organizing much earlier in this election.
Earlier this month, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris met with tribal representatives at the Heard Museum in Phoenix.
A video by Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez asked the vice president to send a message to the Navajo people. “Navajo Nation, stay strong; we need you,” he replied. “We need you, we need you, we need you because you’re going to have a seat at the table if we get elected.”
A seat at the table is very much a part of the Democrats campaign effort. There are multiple public roles, Zoom events, and committee meetings that have included tribal leadership. The campaign released a 15-page plan for tribal nations, that includes, among other proposals, more economic development, health care improvements, and making it easier for tribes to acquire sovereign lands.
The Democrats also call for investment in clean energy in tribal communities with a goal of net zero emissions in thirty years.
The Democrats would also restore the White House Tribal Nations Conference; what was an annual event that has not happened during the Trump administration.
There are seven states, including Arizona, where the Native vote is larger than the margin of victory in the last election. The power of the Native vote in Arizona has been reflected over the years in state races (especially the governor’s office) and now both presidential campaigns see its significance.
Speaking of breaking a record: More than a half a million people have already voted in Arizona — and more than 28 million across the country.
I am Mark Trahant.