Indian Country politics and public policy

Commentary by Mark Trahant

  Mark Trahant / Trahant Reports I have been avoiding politics. Last year I was consumed by dozens of races across the country, building data bases, checking names, and generally being enthusiastic. Now? Well, this year, I have been absorbed by the Republican plans to rewrite the Affordable Care Act, destroy Medicaid as we know …

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Mark Trahant / Trahant Reports The Trump presidency ended yesterday. “… Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee,” Donald J. Trump said.  “I’m …

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  Mark Trahant / Trahant Reports James Singer will run for the United States Senate in Utah. He’s the first Native American to run in 2018 elections. Singer is a member of the Navajo Nation. He’s also the first candidate to cite Standing Rock as the answer to the question, “why run?” “This past year has …

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Mark Trahant / Trahant Reports Former Montana State Sen. Carol Juneau once said that she considered state office because that’s where she could make a difference. (She is a member of the Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Tribe but was living in the Blackfeet Nation). The year was 1998. She was first appointed to the legislature to …

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***Updated*** Good morning. A quick update. So a reader points out that I really ought to include Debora Juarez in this list (and in the broader review of Native women in office). And it’s a spot on suggestion. So I have added Juarez and a couple of county commissioners I know about … but there …

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Do you ever wonder who will be the first Native American president? That answer might already be found on the ballots across the country. Where more Native Americans than ever are running for office. Welcome to the Trahant Reports election special. I’m  Mark Trahant. You can find my blog at or my work on …

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Mark Trahant / TrahantReports First the news: Montana Democrats hired Amy Croover as director of the Native Vote program. A Democratic Party press release said her task is to increase the number of Native American voters. The message is significant. Montana Democrats are investing real resources to give American Indian voters a greater say. “As …

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  What does the election landscape look like? This. I am also updating the spreedsheet that lists all of these candidates. I will post as soon as I have confirmed a couple of races. — Mark Trahant    

And one important lesson for Indian Country Mark Trahant / TrahantReports There are three lessons that the Hillary Clinton campaign could learn from team Bernie Sanders. And there is one critical lesson from Clinton that could help Indian Country win more elections.  A little background first. I have been writing about political campaigns for forty-plus …

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#NativeVote16 – Investing in coal (or better, a transition away from coal)

May 3, 2016


Quick point:

I thought Hillary Clinton’s conversation with a coal miner was the most interesting moment on the campaign yesterday.
Of course it’s time to “leave it in the ground.” And rethink fracking. But energy policy is far more complicated than a slogan. What will it do to reservation families if an end to fracking pushes gas prices back to $4 or $5 a gallon? How do we at the same time: reduce carbon emissions, keep energy costs affordable, and keep people working?
And how much of an investment will be required to create clean energy jobs (and help the workforce make that transition)? And how do we do that with a Congress that would rather drill & mine?

This will be an election issue in Montana’s House race between Democrat Denise Juneau and Ryan Zinke. The Republican incumbent has made this an issue, recently introducing legislation for a permanent tax credit for reservation mines. Zinke said: “We want to create as few economic burdens as possible, especially since tribal lands are subject to greater regulatory hurdles compared to private, state, or federal projects. Making the tax credit permanent will empower tribal governments by promoting economic and social growth. Coal-producing tribes, such as the Crow Nation, will have a greater capacity to create jobs and invest in critical projects like infrastructure and education.”

But a key part of that plan is the Gateway Terminal Pacific export terminal in Washington state, a project that Northwest tribes oppose because of its impact on the environment and salmon.

My piece on the politics of leaving coal in the ground:…/politics-of-leaving-coal-in-t…/

Brookings has another idea: A carbon tax to help mining families. A key point from the piece: “What coalfield communities need now is to move on their transition before things get worse. To do that, they need funding, which a carbon tax is uniquely suited to provide.”…/26-coal-economy-workers-need-hel…

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