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2018-05-10 / Voices

Republicans Are Taking Blue Wave Serious

A VIEW FROM LAKOTA COUNTRY
BY BRANDON ECOFFEY
OGLALA LAKOTA

I am not surprised that across western South Dakota Republicans are packing the streets with their political propaganda. There is a very good chance that they stand to lose many seats in Congress, as well as State houses, during this election cycle.

What could hurt us

When you drive across Rapid City you cannot turn a corner without seeing a Marty Jackley sign. While his campaign would lead you to believe that he is the ultimate front-runner for the Governor’s set, I feel like they are preparing for an allout slugfest.

The other day I was having a conversation with a family member about the duel between Marty Jackley and Kristi Noem for the republican nomination for Governor. While we both agreed that Billy Sutton would absolutely be the best person for the job, we were forced to have a conversation about the possibility of a republican winning.

There is a fundamental difference between Marty Jackley and Kristi Noem that our voters and our leaders need to understand. Marty Jackley has spent a majority of his career actively working to erode tribal sovereignty and contributing to a justice system that has locked up Native people at a rate dramatically higher than whites. The evidence of this is abundant. Jackley erroneously prosecuted contractors who were assisting the Flandreau Sioux Tribe in their efforts to legalize cannabis on their lands. His anti-sovereignty position was on full display as he undermined the Tribe’s effort to improve the living conditions of its tribal citizens. Jackley has also resisted efforts to fully implement the Indian Child Welfare Act in state and county courts across South Dakota. With this track-record it is safe to say that the attack on the rights of tribal nations would be in full force should he be elected.

Noem has shown an interest in improving conditions in Indian Country. While she did fail miserably in her effort to articulate the core tenants of tribal sovereignty when she backed the No Haven for Dangerous Fugitives Act, she has shown a genuine interest in creating relationships with tribal leaders. Her willingness to engage with tribal communities on how they felt their issues would best be addressed are noteworthy. Do I think Kristi Noem could become an advocate for Indian Country with the help of the right people behind her? Absolutely.

While I may catch some heat from my democratic friends about talking Noem in a positive light, I believe that when our people go to the polls in record numbers to vote for the Native candidates on the ballot, we are going to recognized as a force worthy of catering policy towards.

I personally believe that both parties have ignored our communities for the most part because they do not believe we are going to head for the polls. I think that this year will be different as there is sure to be an immense pushback against the policies of the current president. Both parties recognize this, so who is the silent force in South Dakota? It is out population of voters. We have the power to tip the tide in a more favorable direction by actively participating in campaigns this year.

There are plenty of Native American candidates who need our support. Let’s jump behind them.

*Brandon Ecoffey is the former editor of LCT and is an award-winning journalist who was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

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