indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Native American Bank - Native people investing in Native communities
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Tim Giago: South Dakota could be a political hotbed this election

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: 2014, democrats, elections, house, native sun news, republicans, senate, south dakota, tim giago
   


Tim Giago. Photo by Talli Nauman

South Dakota could be a political hotbed in 2014
Notes from Indian Country
By Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji)

Over the years I have encouraged Native American tribal governments to move their elections to coincide with the national elections in November.

I believed this to be very important for two reasons: First of all the Native American vote has been terribly overlooked by candidates seeking national office for too many years. Second, tribal elections usually draw many more voters than national elections because the candidates are local and whether they are elected or not has a powerful impact upon tribal individuals and on the tribal government itself. If the elections for a national candidate fell on the same day as the local tribal elections the turnout would be much heavier and so the Native American voters would have a marked influence upon the national elections.

This theory came into play dramatically in 2002 when John Thune, a Republican, ran against Tim Johnson, a Democrat, in an at-large House seat in South Dakota. Johnson won the election by a mere 524 votes. As the counting of votes neared its end Thune was clearly leading and his staff was about ready to uncork the champagne bottles.

The vote counting continued late into the night and as is the usual case in South Dakota, the votes from the western Indian reservations were among the last to be counted. When the votes from the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations were tallied, Tim Johnson eased ahead and took the election.

Johnson had campaigned heavily in Indian Country and he was (and still is) deeply respected by the Native Americans of the state. Thune did little campaigning to attract the Indian vote. The outcome proved that the Indian vote can, and did, make a huge difference.

When a lot of outside of the state money flooded South Dakota heavily favoring the Republican candidate John Thune against Senator Tom Daschle in the 2004 election for the United States Senate, it was one of the first times that huge donations from out-of-state came into play to unseat a sitting United States Senator. On election night the vote counting always begins in the eastern counties and works its way west. Once again Thune led the race, but the reservation votes had not yet been compiled. Tribal elections usually draw 60 to 70 percent of the eligible voters, but this time around only 50 percent of the voters turned out. Daschle lost by a 4,508 votes.

In this Oglala Sioux Tribal election Cecilia Fire Thunder became the first woman ever elected to serve as President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Some election officials believed that the turnout was smaller than usual because a woman was running for the tribe’s highest office. Fire Thunder won the election but ended up being impeached by the Tribal Council for her stand on the right of a woman to have an abortion. Fire Thunder has been a healthcare provider for Indian women for years and she saw the need for Indian women to have the same opportunities for healthcare as women everywhere. She alluded to the fact that she might invite Planned Parenthood to open a clinic on the reservation. This did not sit well with the tribal council.

With the lower voter turnout for this election in 2004 Daschle’s chances to beat the big money corporations pouring money to defeat him was too much to overcome. Although he handily won the majority votes on the Indian reservations, the biggest reservation, Pine Ridge, failed to have the turnout he needed to overcome Thune.

In the upcoming 2014 elections nearly all of the candidates for senate and the House of Representatives are well aware of the impact the Indian reservations could have upon their prospects.

Incumbent Kristi Noem has been challenged by a western South Dakota woman, a military veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, named Corinna Robinson, for her House Seat. Tim Johnson is retiring from the Senate so his seat is up for grabs. The principal candidates are former South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds, a Republican, former U. S. Senator Larry Pressler, an Independent, Rick Weiland, a Democrat, and Gordie Howie, another Independent. This is an interesting race because it is hard to determine which candidate will be hurt by the Independents or if the Independents have the capability of actually winning. The Republican Rounds could be the candidate hurt the most by Larry Pressler, a former Republican. Pressler may garner many of the Republican votes Rounds needs to defeat the rapidly rising Weiland.

This November also happens to be a year when the Pine Ridge Reservation will also be holding elections for the Tribal Council and for the office of the president. The candidates for the office of president have not made their announcements yet, but because of the heated political atmosphere on the reservation surrounding the legalization of the sale of alcohol within the boundaries of the reservation this election is generating a lot of interest and could be contentious. This means that the turnout will be very large and the candidates running for the House of Representatives and the U. S. Senate know this.

For the first time in the history of national elections in South Dakota an Indian college has teamed with an Indian newspaper to sponsor a debate between the senate candidates. United Tribes Technical College’s Rapid City Campus will host the debate and Native Sun News, also of Rapid City, will sponsor it. For the first time the candidates will be asked questions by Native Americans they are never asked at other debates. So far all of the candidates have agreed to participate in the debate except for Rounds.

This will be one of the most interesting elections in South Dakota’s history.

Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard with the Class of 1991. He can be reached at editor@nsweekly.com


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Designation sought for Cheyenne warrior site (3/30)
Mark Charles: Nation was built on the dehumanization of others (3/30)
Kevin Abourezk: Students retrace journey of Chief Standing Bear (3/30)
Julianne Jennings: Taking care of our eyesight in Indian Country (3/30)
BIA official expected to be released from hospital after stabbing (3/30)
BIA delays ruling on Pamunkey Tribe federal recognition petition (3/30)
Fort Peck Tribes might scale back plans for first gaming facility (3/30)
BIA rejects Menominee Nation off-reservation gaming compact (3/30)
Native Sun News: Businesses show support for LNI tournament (3/27)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux fighter climbing in the ranks (3/27)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Natives look 10,000 years into the future (3/27)
Ivan Star: The influences of boarding school and Vietnam War (3/27)
Gyasi Ross: Funerals become family reunions in Indian Country (3/27)
Tim Giago hands over the reins as publisher of Native Sun News (3/27)
House committee passes Native American Children's Safety Act (3/27)
Bill to benefit Miami Nation moves forward in House and Senate (3/27)
City extended contract to send treated sewage to sacred peaks (3/27)
Oneida Nation welcomes ruling backing land-into-trust request (3/27)
Lawmakers want BIA to delay new federal recognition reforms (3/27)
Another conviction from Chippewa Cree Tribe corruption probe (3/27)
Editorial: Shakopee Tribe contributes $5M for health initiative (3/27)
Opinion: Navajo Nation enacts 'sin tax' on unhealthy products (3/27)
Editorial: Opposition to Pamunkey Tribe recognition 'revolting' (3/27)
Dennis Jenkins: Hypocrisy for new tribal casinos in Connecticut (3/27)
Supreme Court asked to hear Kialegee Tribal Town gaming case (3/27)
Ho-Chunk Nation extends agreement for off-reservation casino (3/27)
Indiana lawmakers seek role in Pokagon Band gaming compact (3/27)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux leader not pleased with boycott (3/26)
Lakota Country Times: Lakota Nation Invitational stays in Rapid (3/26)
Native Sun News: Mayor of Rapid City addresses race relations (3/26)
Jane Daugherty: Tribal e-commerce continues to draw scrutiny (3/26)
Witness list for Senate Indian Affairs Committee's field hearing (3/26)
Richard Iron Cloud: Remove murderer's name from sacred peak (3/26)
Native Youth: Bring dental therapy providers to Indian Country (3/26)
Steven Newcomb: Tribal nations still under dominating process (3/26)
Law firm hosts tribes for session on marijuana in Indian Country (3/26)
Judge upholds BIA decision on Oneida Nation land-into-trust bid (3/26)
Appeals court rules against Crow Tribe in housing grant dispute (3/26)
Ho-Chunk Nation raises minimum wage to $2.75 above federal (3/26)
Mishewal Wappo Tribe to appeal decision in recognition lawsuit (3/26)
Racist emails of former Montana federal judge to be preserved (3/26)
Shingle Springs Band considered but rejected indoor gun range (3/26)
House panel backs bill to block Tohono O'odham Nation casino (3/26)
Quapaw Tribe did not include casino on land-into-trust request (3/26)
Chumash Tribe never got apology for diplomat's casino remark (3/26)
Governor won't sign casino compact with Fort Sill Apache Tribe (3/26)
Cherokee Nation approves $6.9M renovation project for casino (3/26)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux veteran training for Paralympics (3/25)
Alaska Native musher Chuck Schaeffer completes 2015 Iditarod (3/25)
LTBB News: Michigan tribes come together for historic meeting (3/25)
Lecture focuses on repatriation of tribal intellectual properties (3/25)
Board still working on delivering money for Cobell scholarships (3/25)
Sen. Barrasso to chair field hearing on drugs in Indian Country (3/25)
Bill for tribal marijuana compacts up for hearing in Washington (3/25)
Choctaw Nation chief hopes to travel to Ireland for monument (3/25)
HHS urged to do more to help tribes with foster care programs (3/25)
Eastern Cherokees work to teach language to new generations (3/25)
Another suggestion for Indian woman on $20 bill -- Sakakawea (3/25)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.