Opinion | Politics

Mark Trahant: It wasn't a complete disaster for Native candidates






Idaho Rep. Paulette Jordan (D) won her bid for re-election on November 8, 2016. Photo from Facebook

#NativeVote16 – Less representation, not more, but a few important wins too
By Mark Trahant
Trahant Reports
TrahantReports.Com

Native American representation in Congress was 0.37 percent before the election and today it’s the same, Rep. Tom Cole and Rep. Markwayne Mullin were easily re-elected to the House.

But Denise Juneau, Joe Pakotas and Chase Iron Eyes were all defeated by wide margins in Montana, Washington and North Dakota.

The tally of statewide office holders will drop, though. Denise Juneau will end her term as Montana’s Supt. of Public Instruction in January. Byron Mallot was not on the ballot and he has another two years as Lt. Gov. of Alaska. But Henry Red Cloud, Ruth Buffalo, and Marlo Hunte-Beaubrun lost their bid for offices in South Dakota and North Dakota.

Native Americans running for state legislatures did not fare better, except, I should point out there are some bright spots.


#NativeElect16 graphic by Mark Trahant / Trahant Reports

Rep. Paulette Jordan, a Democrat, won re-election in deep red Idaho. She posted on Facebook: “While it is bittersweet to win in such a large loss both local and national, we must remain hopeful and optimistic that our vision of equality and balance will soon be achieved. Until that day comes: onward!”

And Montana Native legislative candidates won 8 seats from both reservation and urban districts. Elected were Shane Morigeau to represent Missoula, Garrett Lankford in Great Falls, and Frank Smith, Carolyn Pease-Lopez, Susan Webber, Rae Peppers, Jonathan Windy Boy and the lone Republican, Jason Smith.

Four Native women won in Minnesota. State Representatives Susan Allen, Peggy Flanagan, Mary Kunesh-Podein were re-elected, and a new voice, Jamie Becker-Finn.

Rep.-elect Tawna Sanchez in Oregon and Kansas re-elected Rep. Ponke-We Victors.

Still, Indian Country lost some races with really talented people. But elections are not forever. So expect to hear more in the future from: Laurel Deegan-Fricke in North Carolina, Cesar Alvarez, Cheryl Ann Kary in North Dakota, Red Dawn Foster in South Dakota, Bryan Van Stippen in Wisconsin, and, Ronda Metcalf and Sharlaine LaClair from Washington.

The complete list.

Mark Trahant is the Charles R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Journalism at the University of North Dakota. He is an independent journalist and a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. To read more of his regular #NativeVote16 updates, follow trahantreports.com On Facebook: TrahantReports On Twitter: @TrahantReports