Indian Country politics and public policy

Commentary by Mark Trahant

Scott Davis is executive director of North Dakota’s Indian Affairs Commission. (State photo)


Mark Trahant / TrahantReports

North Dakota’s primary Tuesday was supposed to be routine: After all the Native American candidates were running unopposed in their primary races. Then last night a surprise text: “Scott Davis, Standing Rock Sioux, North Dakota Indian Affairs Commissioner, was elected to the city of Mandan.”

Davis led a field of four candidates with nearly 31 percent of the vote. According to The Bismarck Tribune, Davis “places a high priority on affordable housing and said there is a network of resources he is familiar with to achieve that and create a unique brand for Mandan.”

Mandan is a city of nearly 20,000 people next door to North Dakota’s capital city of Bismarck. 

Longtime educator David Gipp, who is also Standing Rock Sioux, is running for the North Dakota Senate from Mandan. Gipp is one of the founders of the United Tribes Technical College. He ran unopposed Tuesday in the primary.

(Previous: Native North Dakota.)

I have written before that the 2016 election seems like an “outsiders” election and you cannot get any more outsider than Native American candidates. That’s certainly the story in North Dakota. And across the state Native candidates were running as if they had vigorous primary opposition. Chase Iron Eyes, who’s running for the state’s only congressional seat,  posted on Facebook: “North Dakota primaries got my energy levels on max! People want new blood, new talent, new ideas. We’ve got to turn out new voters ND!” Iron Eyes is also a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. 

Ruth Buffalo, a member of Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara Tribes, is running for Insurance Commissioner. She thanked voters. “Now we move in to the general election in November!” Buffalo posted on Facebook. “I’m excited to hit the campaign trail to hear more from voters and to carry our message forward.”

A third statewide candidate, Marlo Hunte-Beaubrun, is running for the state’s Public Services Commission. That body, among other duties, regulates the oil and gas industry and makes decisions about such things as pipeline permits. She is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

There are at least four Native American candidates for the North Dakota legislature and one senator who is not up for election this cycle. Candidates for ND House: Cesar Alvaraz, (Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Tribes) and Cheryl Ann Kary (Standing Rock Sioux). ND Senate: Steve Allard (Turtle Mountain Chippewa); Sen. Richard Marcellais (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) who is not up for election this year; and David Gipp.

Cara Currie Hall (Maskwacis Cree) a political strategist who’s in North Dakota said it all in a text last night: “We are experiencing a movement in North Dakota and bringing change to all levels of government.”

Mark Trahant is the Charles R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Journalism at the University of North Dakota. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. On Twitter @TrahantReports

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Please credit: Mark Trahant / Trahantreports.com
 

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