National | Politics

Republican vice presidential pick Mike Pence hosts town hall at Sandia Pueblo






Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 20, 2016. Photo from Facebook

Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence will appear at a campaign event in Indian Country, a first for the rocky campaign of White House hopeful Donald Trump.

Pence is scheduled to speak at a town hall at Sandia Resort and Casino at 3:30pm Mountain time on Tuesday. The facility is owned by Sandia Pueblo and it's often used for public events due to its close proximity to Albuquerque, the largest city in the state.

The New Mexico Republican Party in fact held its convention there in May. A dust-up over media credentials drew negative press attention to the event before the tribe cleared up the confusion.

Native Americans represent 10.5 percent of the population in New Mexico and 4.6 percent of the population in Albuquerque, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Besides Sandia, several Pueblo tribes and one Navajo Nation community are located near the city.

With its sizable Native and Hispanic populations, the state easily went for President Barack Obama in 2012 and in 2008. The counties that are home to Indian Country all voted overwhelmingly for the Democratic candidate.

And with just five electoral votes, New Mexico is not considered a big prize in the election. Only one poll has been conducted in the past year and it showed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton with an eight-point lead over Trump. Former two-term governor Gary Johnson, who is running on the Libertarian Party ticket, drew a noteworthy support from 14 percent of respondents.

Trump has not discussed Indian policy at all since the real estate mogul entered the race in June 2015. His campaign has not enlisted any tribal citizens as advisers or supporters, a marked contrast to that of Clinton and of prior candidates from both parties.

Trump, though, has an extremely volatile relationship with Indian Country that dates back to the 1990s. Whether it's questioning the identity of indigenous peoples or attacking the integrity of the Indian gaming industry, tribes have come into frequent conflict with the controversial figure.

More recently, his attacks on Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) over her disputed Indian ancestry even drew criticism from fellow Republicans for furthering stereotypes about Native women. Trump has not brought up the issue for a few weeks now.

Pence is a former member of Congress who currently serves as governor of Indiana. He has not had much of a record on Indian issues mainly due to the limited presence of tribes in the state.

But he has expressed conflicting stances on gaming and allowed a gaming expansion bill to become law last year even though he previously said was opposed to the idea on principle.

If he were to stay in office as governor long enough, Pence might need to firm up his positions. The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, whose members live in the northwestern part of the state, is seeking to expand its territory, which could lead to negotiations on gaming, jurisdiction and other issues.

The tribe's land-into-trust application for about 165 acres in South Bend is pending at the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Although there's no timeline for a decision, it's possible it will be left to the next presidential administration.

Read More on the Story:
Trump running mate Pence heads to ABQ, Roswell today for town hall meetings (The Albuquerque Journal 8/16)
Vice presidential nominee Pence adds two stops in N.M. (The Santa Fe New Mexican 8/16)
Dems criticize GOP VP nominee ahead of NM visit (New Mexico Political Report 8/15)
Pence to hold two campaign rallies in NM (New Mexico Political Report 8/14)

Republican Party Platform Documents:
2016: Honoring Our Relationship with American Indians | 2012: Honoring Our Relationship with American Indians | 2008: Supporting Native American Communities | 2004: Native Americans | 2000: Native Americans

Related Stories:
Steve Russell: Donald Trump will hurt Indian Country on purpose (08/16)
Tribes left out of Republican effort to transfer public land to states (8/16)
Mark Trahant: Are there even any Republicans in Indian Country? (08/15)
Opinion: The media ignores another 'off the reservation' comment (08/15)
Charles Trimble: Tough women like Hillary Clinton deserve a chance (08/11)
End of an era nears with final White House Tribal Nations Conference (08/09)
End of an era nears with final White House Tribal Nations Conference (08/09)
Charles Trimble: Tribal nations must join together for Hillary Clinton (08/02)
Editorial: Donald Trump would force Black Hills settlement on tribes (08/02)
John McCain denounces Donald Trump but won't withdraw support (08/01)
Bryan Newland: Donald Trump's radical view of federal Indian law (07/29)
Tim Giago: Questioning the motto of GOP candidate Donald Trump (07/26)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Donald Trump and his campaign of hatred (07/25)
Mark Charles: The entire nation's problem with Donald Trump (07/22)
Mark Trahant: Donald Trump promises a world with no treaties (07/22)
Donald Trump closes Republican convention that left out Indian Country (07/22)
Mark Trahant: Donald Trump's Republican convention is one big failure (07/21)
Tribal lobbyist not buying Donald Trump's message of change (07/21)
Donald Trump officially named Republican presidential nominee (07/20)
Republicans unveil platform and project inclusion at convention (7/19)
Mark Trahant: Trump Republicans carry the banner for more coal (7/18)
Navajo artist Vanessa Bowen takes on Donald Trump with 'Make America Native Again' (07/12)
Democrats embrace tribal sovereignty in platform for convention (07/08)
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation slams Donald Trump for 'bigoted' attacks (07/07)
Mark Trahant: Republican candidates play hide the stick with Donald Trump on the ticket (07/06)
Ramapough Lunaape Nation blames Donald Trump for lack of federal status (07/05)
Mainstream media tunes into Trump's attacks on Indian gaming (7/4)
Donald Trump approved Indian gaming attack ads in New York (6/30)
Donald Trump rehashes 'Pocahontas' slur as Elizabeth Warren hits road for Hillary Clinton (06/28)
Donald Trump fares poorly against Hillary Clinton in national poll (06/27)
Leaders of three tribes meet Donald Trump during Arizona stop (06/20)
Navajo Republicans divided on Donald Trump's 'Pocahontas' slur (06/17)
Republicans slam Trump's 'racist' comments but still support him (06/08)
Sen. Barrasso to chair platform committee for GOP convention (05/25)
Donald Trump claims 'Jack Abrahamoff scandal' proves he was right about tribes (05/23)
Donald Trump's long and strained relationship with Indian gaming (05/19)
Donald Trump releases list of potential Supreme Court nominees (05/18)
Mark Trahant: Indian Republican Tom Cole backs Donald Trump (05/18)
Sen. Warren stands up to Donald Trump despite his 'Indian' insults (05/10)
Mark Trahant: Donald Trump brings good news to Native candidates (05/09)
Cowlitz Tribe hosted Donald Trump to discuss his interest in casino (05/09)
Donald Trump advisor filed lawsuit to stop transfer of dam to tribe (04/20)
Donald Trump tried to bully his way into New York tribe's casino bid (04/18)
Backer of Republican Donald Trump described Indians as 'filthy' (04/12)
Donald Trump again derides Sen. Elizabeth Warren as 'the Indian' (03/22)
Donald Trump once claimed IGRA and tribal casinos were illegal (01/29)
Cowlitz Tribe turned down Donald Trump for gaming partnership (10/05)
Donald Trump not shy with invoking race when it comes to tribes (07/31)