Opinion | Politics

Mark Trahant: Indian issues play big role in South Dakota race

"South Dakota’s lone U.S. Representative is an important office for Indian country. The state that once sent a Lakota man, Ben Reifel, to Congress.

Reifel once told me he was a Republican because he had to be. He was from South Dakota and he saw that as his only path to elective office. His resume would disqualify him from that party today: He was a bureaucrat, retiring as the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ area director before his election in 1960. He went on to serve five terms.

American Indians remain a key constituency in that state’s politics – even if Reifel remains the only Native American to serve in Congress. (When Reifel was in office South Dakota had two representatives, there is only one statewide member now.) There are nine reservations, significant urban populations in Rapid City and Sioux Falls, and the total population is just under nine percent of the state’s 814,000 residents."

Get the Story:
Mark Trahant: Debating South Dakota’s Lone Voice in Congress (Indian Country Today 9/27)

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