The ads are becoming more frequent and more vicious.
Kristi Noem, the Republican candidate for the lone House
of Representatives seat in South Dakota, is the recipient of
out-of-state advertisements that are using a scorched earth policy of
attacking the incumbent Congress woman, Democratic Stephanie Herseth
The most effective way to combat horrible ads is for
Herseth Sandlin to respond with ads that show her accomplishments, and
she has many.
Her current ad showing how she has worked with military
veterans in so many positive ways is a classic example. As the song
goes, "You have to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative."
Herseth Sandlin is a Representative who has taken the
time to learn about the Indian Nations in her state. She and current
South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) are probably to two most
knowledgeable members of Congress when it comes to Native American
concerns and issues.
I have sat in and listened as both of these members of
Congress answered questions, some quite hostile, about Indian issues,
and they not only answered the questions, but turned the questions
into a time to educate the questioner.
For Native Americans to lose Herseth Sandlin would be a
disaster of epic proportions. It would be comparable to the loss they
suffered when Senator Tom Daschle lost to John Thune, a Republican.
And Native Americans could have saved the seat of Daschle if they had
turned out in proportionate numbers. Daschle lost by less than 5,000
votes and the Indian vote never developed. In fact, although high in
comparison to the rest of South Dakota's precincts (Pine Ridge had a
50 percent turnout), an increase to 75 percent and a similar turnout
on the other eight reservations, would have saved Daschle's senate seat.
That was a disastrous lesson in history that the Natives
of this state dare not repeat. Noem's knowledge of Native issues is
debatable. It took two terms in office for Herseth Sandlin to weave
her way through all of the dubious channels in Washington to gain the
knowledge about how to get legislation favorable to the Indian nations
passed. At this time in our history we do not need a starry eyed
rookie replacing a battle-scarred veteran of Congress.
Republicans are making light of the fact that Noem is
guilty of 20 traffic violations since 1989 and failed to appear for
judgment on two occasions prompting the court to issue warrants for
her arrest. Of course she was never arrested, but it makes one wonder
if that would have been the case if she was Native American. We
(Indians) believe that if she was Native American, she would have been
behind bars in rapid order. The history between law enforcement
officers in South Dakota and Native Americans would prove us out, of
this we are sure.
It is no laughing matter when someone aspiring to a seat in Congress
constantly violates the law of the land. It indicates a lack of
respect for the law and a lack of responsibility. Disregard of traffic
laws can lead to death and disaster. Just ask former S. D. Governor
William Janklow, a man with numerous traffic violations who ended up
killing a motorcyclist after running a stop sign. Janklow paid his
debt to society, but it ruined his political career. Would those
Republicans now trying to pooh pooh Noem's traffic record vote for
Janklow if he ran for office again?
Incidentally, Noem's latest traffic violation happened just six months
ago when she was ticketed for driving 94 miles per hour in a 75 mile
per hour zone.
But this should not be the only reason to support Herseth Sandlin.
Look at her record since she has been in Congress on many issues and
please do not be stampeded into believing that she walks lock step
with Nancy Pelosi as the Republicans want you to believe because she
I am an Independent and I am not beholden to either the Democrats or
the Republicans, but as an Independent I will choose to cast my vote
for the one lady that will continue to work closely with the Native
Americans of this state to bring jobs, better health care, educational
opportunities and housing to the reservations.
Given the opportunity, Kristi Noem would attempt to eliminate many of
the programs now serving Native Americans under the guise of fiscal
responsibility. She would throw the baby out with the bathwater and
that is frightening. She is a Tea Party favorite so Native voters
beware. Indian healthcare would be one of her main targets.
In these days of high unemployment, the loss of home mortgages, high
taxes, high fuel costs, two wars and in the midst of a Nation wanting
to run amuck, we do not need a green Congresswoman to contribute to
We need the steady and sure hand of Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. And
don't let negative and desperate ads tell you differently.
Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, is the editor and publisher of Native Sun News.
He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard with the Class of 1990. His weekly column won
the H. L. Mencken Award in 1985. His book Children Left Behind was awarded the
Bronze Medal by Independent Book Publishers. He was the first Native American
ever inducted into the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2007. He can be
reached at email@example.com.
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