Indian Country politics and public policy

Commentary by Mark Trahant



On Thursday Alton Joe Shepherd, Speaker pro tem of the Navajo Nation Council, announced that representatives of the Donald Trump campaign were open to a meeting with the tribe’s legislature on June 18 in Phoenix. 

Jolene Holgate, a spokesperson for the Council, said that no decision had been made about the meeting but that it would be consistent with conversations with the other presidential candidates. 

** A statement released by the Speaker Lorenzo Bates said an invitation has now been extended to the Clinton campaign. The release said the meetings were to gather information and no presidential candidate had been endorsed.

It would be a chance for Navajo leaders to learn more about the presumptive Republican nominee and what sort of policy he would put in place regarding the nation’s largest tribal nation.

I will update this story when there are more details available.

A New Mexico miss

I thought I chronicled all of the competitive races in New Mexico involving Native American legislative candidates, but I missed a big one. Former Navajo President Ben Shelly fell short in his bid to be a state representative. He was fourth out of four candidates. According to The Navajo Times: Shelly said he plans now to focus on his business. “As for future offices,” he told the Times, “I will consider them.”

Senate bid in Wisconsin

Bryan Van Stippen, an attorney who works for the HoChunk Nation, and a member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, is a candidate for the Wisconsin state Senate. He is running as a Democrat in district 12, now represented by Sen. Tom Tiffany, a Republican. He had been planning a run for the lower house, but said he changed his mind because of “simple math.” If Democrats can win two Senate seats and pick up support from one more Republican they will have the power to “prevent … particularly obnoxious bills from getting out of the Legislature.”

— Mark Trahant

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