Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on the campaign trail. Photo by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.
Republican president-elect Donald Trump vowed to bring a divided nation together after delivering a stunning upset to Democrat Hillary Clinton on Election Day.
Speaking at a hotel in New York City early Wednesday morning, the real estate mogul offered nothing but praise for his rival. He said the former Secretary of State and former U.S. Senator ran a tough campaign in a victory speech that struck tones of reconciliation despite a nasty and bitter race.
"To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people,"
Trump said as he was flanked by family, running mate Mike Pence and campaign staff and supporters. "It's time."
Trump declared victory after winning a series of key battleground states on Tuesday. Voters in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania helped push him over the top in the Electoral College count -- he had 276 as of early Wednesday, with 270 needed to secure the presidency.
Indianz.Com SoundCloud: Donald Trump Presidential Victory Speech
The win means Republicans will control the White House and the U.S. Congress for the first time since 2009. The House and the Senate remain in GOP hands despite attempts by Democrats to capitalize on a wave of anti-Trump sentiment that had some of his fellow party members distancing themselves from the controversial candidate after he bragged about sexually assaulting women.
Even as Trump was gracious toward Clinton, he still sounded bothered by the Republicans who abandoned him in the last couple of months. But he sought to set those differences aside as he transforms from a brash politician into a leader who needs to build bridges and coalitions in Washington, D.C.
"I'm reaching out to you for your guidance and your help
so we can work together and unify our great country," Trump said to those Republicans.
"It's been what they call a historic event," he added later during the speech. "But to be really historic we've got to do a great job."
Donald Trump on Facebook: Victory Speech in New York City
Despite the positive notes, Trump's Indian policy remains the biggest unknown. Only last week did he launch his Native American Coalition but it was short on prominent or respected names as a slew of tribal and Indian leaders had already endorsed Clinton.
The group was even shorter on concrete goals and promises. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R), a member of the Cherokee Nation who chairs the coalition, acknowledged as much during a campaign stop on the Navajo Nation last Friday.
“Donald Trump may not understand all the Indian issues,"
Mullin, who easily won his re-election campaign in Oklahoma on Tuesday, said at a Navajo Republican rally in Shiprock, New Mexico. "How could he? He's not from here."
"But he's smart enough to surround himself with people to go get the answers," Mullin continued. "So I guarantee you, what we have with Donald Trump is someone with an open ear that's willing to listen to wise counsel."
Donald Trump Jr., the son of the Republican president-elect, with Navajo Code Talker Fleming Begaye Sr., in Shiprock, New Mexico, on November, 4, 2016. Begaye serves as honorary chair of Republican Donald Trump's Native American Coalition. Photo by Markwayne Mullin
In the past, however, Trump was openly antagonistic to tribes. During the 1990s and early 2000s, he questioned their legitimacy and their ability to govern themselves and he associated them with crime and drugs in an attempt to protect his gaming enterprise, which has since failed.
"To sit here and listen as people are saying that there is no organized crime, that there is no money laundering, that there is no anything, and that an Indian
chief is going to tell Joey Killer to please get off his reservation is almost
unbelievable to me," Trump told the House Subcommittee on Native American
Affairs in October 1993, according to the transcript
of the heated proceeding.
When he finally landed a deal with one tribe, it did not turn out so well. The Twenty-Nine
Palms Band of Mission Indians in California ended its relationship with the mogul in 2005, much earlier than expected.
In an attempt to land a deal with the Cowlitz Tribe, Trump offered an apology of sorts for his earlier remarks. "I do now, and always have, supported the sovereignty of Native Americans and their right to pursue all lawful opportunities," he wrote in January 2002 to then-Chairman Dave Barnett, who has since passed on.
Tribal leaders will now be looking to Trump to listen to their concerns as they enter a new and unknown era. They have already scheduled a transition meeting on January 19, 2017, the day before the presidential inauguration.
Their biggest fear is a return to a White House where they lacked a voice. That changed when President
Barack Obama came on board in January 2009 and tribes have credited him with dramatically improving relations between the federal government and Indian Country over the last eight years.
Obama appointed more Native people -- including Native women -- to top positions than any other president. He settled more than 100 trust fund lawsuits, including the Cobell case that had been extremely troublesome for both the Clinton and Bush administrations.
Every year, Obama hosted the White House Tribal Nations Conference in an attempt to ensure top Cabinet officials were listening and delivering to Indian Country. He included Native youth in that effort after meeting young citizens of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
on their reservation in North Dakota in June
Trump, like Clinton, already began preparing for the presidential transition in the summer. His team is headed up by New Jersey Gov. Chris
Christie (R), who dropped out of the race for the presidency.
Christie doesn't have much of a record on Indian issues, mainly due to the
limited presence of tribes in the state, but his administration has engaged in an unusual battle against the Ramapough Lunaape
Nation and the Nanticoke
Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation, contending they lack recognition
acts by his predecessors and by state lawmakers. A federal judge has since allowed the Lenni-Lenape to sue the state in federal court in hopes of resolving the matter.