Heitkamp's campaign answered Trump's "what do you have to lose" question by promoting her record as a longtime member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Though she wasn't a co-sponsor of the Tribal Social Security Fairness Act, she has helped other bipartisan measures become law -- including one signed by Trump earlier this year. "In the Senate, Heidi has been a fierce advocate for Native Americans – successfully pushing for a commission to address challenges facing Native children, passing legislation to expand AMBER Alerts and raising awareness about the epidemic of murdered and missing indigenous women," her re-election team said on Monday. In comparison, Cramer's record on Indian issues is not as strong as Heitkamp's. From a major stumble with Native women early in his Congressional career to his eager defense of Dakota Access and its wealthy backers, he hasn't focused much on Indian Country issues. Heitkamp, incidentally, has faced fallout among tribal citizens from her refusal to support the #NoDAPL movement and for defending the state's often violent and harsh treatment of pipeline protesters. That isn't much of a concern for Trump, who boasted of his role in ensuring the pipeline was completed, an issue that remains the subject of litigation. '
Trump to Native Americans: "Maybe they don't know about what's going on with respect to the world of Washington and politics, but I have to tell you, with African-American folks, I would say what do you have to lose?" pic.twitter.com/VwM9XDZqHx— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) September 7, 2018
"How about Dakota Access?" he said to applause. "That was a very unfair situation. And you know, I approved it." "I thought there'd be protests -- nobody called me," he said as some in the crowd laughed. "They just built the pipeline, it's been working ever since." Like Heitkamp, Cramer wasn't a sponsor of the Tribal Social Security Fairness Act either, a measure that has enjoyed widespread support in Indian Country, particularly in the Great Plains and in the Pacific Northwest. Tribes want to ensure that future generations of elected leaders can benefit from Social Security. "I have worked on this issue for a number of years because it is important to encourage our youth to serve our communities and we should do that by eliminating barriers to service," said Virginia Cross, the chair of the Muckleshoot Tribe. "No one should be punished by the federal government for serving their community." The bill, once it is signed into law, authorizes the Social Security Administration to enter into government-to-government agreements with tribes. Doing so will enable members of a tribe's governing body the option of paying into and receiving Social Security benefits -- a privilege already extended to state and local governments. “With this bill, leaders across Indian Country will have long overdue parity with other governmental leaders," Tina Danforth, a citizen of the Oneida Nation who serves as president of the Native American Finance Officers Association, said in a broadcast. "Elected tribal leaders will now be able to 'opt-in' to the Social Security program, which many Americans rely on for a safety net,” The House version of the bill had three Republican supporters and four Democratic ones. Two Democrats and one Republican signed on to S.1309, the Senate version. “Tribal council members in Washington state and throughout the country have dedicated their lives to service and improving their communities,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) said in a press release. “They deserve the same access to Social Security that all other Americans have.”
It was an honor to be a part of the Grand Entry at the #UTTCpowwow last night! Thanks to everyone at @UnitedTribesND for the warm welcome, especially Emira (the little girl on the right in the first photo) who asked for a t-shirt & then wanted to introduce me to her whole family. pic.twitter.com/tY167lV4Jn— Heidi Heitkamp (@HeidiHeitkamp) September 8, 2018