On Sundays, Buffalo Post features a column by Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, who is the editor and publisher of Native Sun News. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard with the Class of 1990. His weekly column won the H. L. Mencken Award in 1985. His book Children Left Behind was awarded the Bronze Medal by Independent Book Publishers. He was the first Native American ever inducted into the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2007. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Tim Giago
The ads are becoming more frequent and more vicious.
Kristi Noem, the Republican candidate for the lone House of Representatives seat in South Dakota, is the recipient of out-of-state advertisements that are using a scorched earth policy of attacking the incumbent Congress woman, Democratic Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.
The most effective way to combat horrible ads is for Herseth Sandlin to respond with ads that show her accomplishments, and she has many.
Her current ad showing how she has worked with military veterans in so many positive ways is a classic example. As the song goes, “You have to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.”
Herseth Sandlin is a Representative who has taken the time to learn about the Indian Nations in her state. She and current South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) are probably two of the most knowledgeable members of Congress when it comes to Native American concerns and issues.
I have sat in and listened as both of these members of Congress answered questions, some quite hostile, about Indian issues, and they not only answered the questions, but turned the questions into a time to educate the questioner.
For Native Americans to lose Herseth Sandlin would be a disaster of epic proportions. It would be comparable to the loss they suffered when Senator Tom Daschle lost to John Thune, a Republican. And Native Americans could have saved the seat of Daschle if they had turned out in proportionate numbers. Daschle lost by less than 5,000 votes and the Indian vote never developed. In fact, although high in comparison to the rest of South Dakota’s precincts (Pine Ridge had a 50 percent turnout), an increase to 75 percent and a similar turnout on the other eight reservations, would have saved Daschle’s senate seat.
That was a disastrous lesson in history that the Natives of this state dare not repeat. Noem’s knowledge of Native issues is debatable. It took two terms in office for Herseth Sandlin to weave her way through all of the dubious channels in Washington to gain the knowledge about how to get legislation favorable to the Indian nations passed. At this time in our history we do not need a starry eyed rookie replacing a battle-scarred veteran of Congress.
Republicans are making light of the fact that Noem is guilty of 20 traffic violations since 1989 and failed to appear for judgment on two occasions prompting the court to issue warrants for her arrest. Of course she was never arrested, but it makes one wonder if that would have been the case if she was Native American. We (Indians) believe that if she was Native American, she would have been behind bars in rapid order. The history between law enforcement officers in South Dakota and Native Americans would prove us out, of this we are sure.
It is no laughing matter when someone aspiring to a seat in Congress constantly violates the law of the land. It indicates a lack of respect for the law and a lack of responsibility. Disregard of traffic laws can lead to death and disaster. Just ask former S.D. Governor William Janklow, a man with numerous traffic violations who ended up killing a motorcyclist after running a stop sign. Janklow paid his debt to society, but it ruined his political career. Would those Republicans now trying to pooh pooh Noem’s traffic record vote for Janklow if he ran for office again?
Incidentally, Noem’s latest traffic violation happened just six months ago when she was ticketed for driving 94 miles per hour in a 75 mile per hour zone.
But this should not be the only reason to support Herseth Sandlin. Look at her record since she has been in Congress on many issues and please do not be stampeded into believing that she walks lock step with Nancy Pelosi as the Republicans want you to believe because she does not.
I am an Independent and I am not beholden to either the Democrats or the Republicans, but as an Independent I will choose to cast my vote for the one lady that will continue to work closely with the Native Americans of this state to bring jobs, better health care, educational opportunities and housing to the reservations.
Given the opportunity, Kristi Noem would attempt to eliminate many of the programs now serving Native Americans under the guise of fiscal responsibility. She would throw the baby out with the bathwater and that is frightening. She is a Tea Party favorite so Native voters beware. Indian healthcare would be one of her main targets.
In these days of high unemployment, the loss of home mortgages, high taxes, high fuel costs, two wars and in the midst of a Nation wanting to run amuck, we do not need a green Congresswoman to contribute to the turmoil.
We need the steady and sure hand of Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. And don’t let negative and desperate ads tell you differently.
Tags: buffalo post, John Thune, Kristi Noem, Native Sun News, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, Tea Party, Tim Giago, Tim Johnson, Tom Daschle, U.S. House of Representatives