Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota), far right, reaches over to shake the hand of Tara Sweeney, President Donald Trump's nominee to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C., on May 9, 2018. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

'She chose oil over Indians': Native voters upset with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp

Some Native voters are upset with the way Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) handled the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy as she seeks a second term in office.

Though many Democrats openly supported the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the #NoDAPL movement throughout 2016 and 2017, Heitkamp did not join the cause. She instead took positions that legitimized the state's often harsh treatment of pipeline opponents and might pay for it at the polls this November, The Associated Press reports.

“The majority of the people here feel the same way I do — she chose oil over Indians,” Standing Rock Sioux citizen Joe Torras told the AP as he said he would sit out the election. “Once you damage that trust, we will never let it go. You only get one shot.”

The AP points out that Heitkamp needs all the votes -- Native and otherwise -- she can get. Her opponent is Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), who was an outspoken defender of the pipeline and its wealthy backers. He also had the ear of the Trump administration as the final portion of the pipeline was under review, and eventually approved, in North Dakota.

"An energy policy expert, Cramer understands America’s energy security is integral to national and economic security," the Republican's campaign site reads.

Heikamp is an active member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, where she has focused on Native youth, Native women and tribal law enforcement since winning her first election in 2012. She has introduced and co-sponsored a slew of Indian Country legislation and a number of them, especially those with Republican support, have become law.

Cramer won his first election in 2012 as well but has less of a record on Indian issues.

Read More on the Story:
Pipeline pique complicates Heitkamp’s 2nd term Senate hopes (The Associated Press May 28, 2018)