#NativeVote16 Introspection.

Mark Trahant: I have been thinking a lot in the last 48 hours about my role, the role of journalism, or what’s left of that, especially in terms of Indian Country.

I wonder how effective we are in the age of social media. And if there might be another way to go about distributing ideas?

Two specific issues: The filter bubble. What we read and consume that challenges our thinking? Does it make it more difficult to build a coalition?

And, perhaps, more important, how do we challenge things we know not to be true?

From a NY magazine essay on Facebook: “They found that users only clicked on 7 percent of “hard” content (politics, national news) in their feeds, as opposed to “soft” content like entertainment, sports, or travel. The researchers found that conservatives see about 5 percent less ideologically diverse content than their more moderate friends, with liberals at 8 percent.”

There are so many examples from Indian Country (and from Indian Country news enterprises) that illustrate this example well.

Who, then, writes about policy? And how do we pay for that?

Introspection time. (Still working on stories on white board, plus looking at actual returns to see where Indian Country voted … and where we did not.)

This piece is worth considering:


#NativeVote16 – Transparency report

** Saturday update **

I am working on piece about Indian Country’s youth vote. I am especially interested in looking at what would 90/100% turnout look like at tribal colleges. Across the country there are about 30,000 tribal college students. I’ll start a spreadsheet and try to break that down by state. I know this is an important constituency. Four years ago much of the registration and organizing efforts at Fort Belknap was accomplished by students. I am really interested in exploring how this generation thinks about voting & activism.

My goal is to post something early in the week (before voter registration deadlines).

I am also planning a piece on voter registration efforts in states where that idea is difficult. (Shout out to Nathan Whistler about what’s going on in Nevada with disenfranchisement attempts.)

I continue to track the candidates on the #NativeVote16 list and will post a few updates soon.  Even now I hear from people who I have missed. Last week I added Phil Bellfy, a citizen of the White Earth Nation, who’s running for the House in Northern Michigan.

I also heard from Tim Sumner, who is running for his second term as a Beltrami County Commissioner.  My plan is to add Native officers holders and candidates in city, county, and other offices, to my database going forward. But that won’t happen until this election is over.

More memes next week — I am still posting candidates from Minnesota. Ballots are now available there. I still need to produce memes for  Montana, South Dakota, Washington, New Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, and Oklahoma. As I type these words I am thinking I should start posting two a day in order to get through all of the candidates on my list before Election Day.

I am also traveling — and will miss the debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I’ll be on a plane so I will have to read & watch after the fact. 

Trahant speaking schedule:

I am in Jackson  Lake Lodge, Wyoming, on Monday speaking to the Environmental Grantmakers Association.

October. 3, Arizona State University, Walter Cronkite School, “Blogging the Election, Native Americans are changing the political landscape.” Phoenix.

October 10, International Conference on Indigenous Archives, Libraries, and Mueums, Phoenix.

More election talk. October 18, University of Minnesota-Duluth, speaking at 6:30 pm as part of a Native Media Summit.

Trahant Reports on radio:

We are continuing to make improvements for my weekly commentary on Native Voice One. The latest plan is one-hour radio special about the election. We are hoping this would be produced mid-October. Audio will be available via social media as well as a free program for radio stations, especially tribal radio stations.

I want to especially thank Kauffman & Associations, Inc., for sponsoring the Native Voice One commentary.  As I say every week: “Trahant Reports is brought to you by Kauffman & Associates, Inc., a Native American owned, woman-owned small business that has delivered innovative .solutions for government and commercial clients since 1990. KAI’s expertise spans diverse specialty areas, including public health, education, and economic development.” Thank you.

That’s what’s on my list. Back to work. — Mark

#NativeVote16 – What’s ahead?

IMG_0254 (1)

Transparency report

August is supposed to be a slow time in politics. Yeah, right. There is a lot going on between now and Labor Day when the political season traditionally kicks off.

I continue to be amazed by the readership for graphics. A story might earn 4 or 5,000 readers; a graphic that tells the same story has five or ten times more readers via social media. (Even these white boards get a viral audience.) So the message is clear: I need to tell more stories with graphics if I want to reach more people.

I’m thinking this week I may play around with infographics focusing on the individual #NativeVote16 candidates for Congress.

And, speaking of Congress, last week I posted a story about the number of primaries that involve #NativeVote16 candidates in August. One I missed was the U.S. Senate race in Alaska. Alaska’s primary is Aug. 16 and Edgar Blatchford is facing two other Democrats.


One fascinating issue is the debate about buffalo (ok, bison, what ever) in Montana. I have some reporting to do — and I am Montana-bound now.

The data beat. I recently read a draft from a group that’s publishing a story on Native American voting history. The turnout numbers, at least to me, seem too low. So I am thinking, “what if I can create a spreadsheet that establishes a baseline for voter registration and turnout?” I am sure it’s a lot of work, but it could be useful as something that would provide both a snapshot and something to measure against in future elections. (I have been working on the national candidate list for months and every time I publish it, I get new names, so I know this one will be difficult.)

I have two essay ideas on my list. I may not get to them, but they are worth mentioning. The first is I want to write about complexity. We don’t get everything we want in a candidate, so how do we reach a conclusion about voting, the best choice, and how to push beyond election day? I’m also intrigued by the narrative from both the left and the right about “rigged” elections. U.S. elections are rigged, but not in the way that people are talking about. We have systemic issues that should be addressed. I wrote about this in May. How does a country deal with a rigged election?

Thanks for reading, sharing, and your interest in #NativeVote16. I’m always eager for your ideas, corrections and comments. –Mark Trahant

Last week’s idea list: