Posts Tagged ‘Democrats’

Just how important will the Native vote be this election year?

Marnee Banks of KXLH examines that question for Montanans in her piece “Campaign Battleground: Montana’s Native Americans.”

Both Democratic and Republican parties in the state acknowledge the importance of the vote.

    John Bennion, the author of “Big Sky Politics,” has studied the political landscape in Montana and how it impacts elections.

    “If you look at the Native American reservations, they are very rural areas of the state and they tend to vote Democratic,” Bennion says.

    However, in an unprecedented wave of Republican sentiment, conservatives won two legislative districts (House Districts 16 and 41) on the reservations last election.

One Native leader in the state sees Native support going to those who can create jobs on reservations. (See Banks’ full video here.)

    Montana Representative Tony Belcourt (D – Box Elder) represents a portion of the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation.

    He agrees with Bennion saying Native Americans typically vote Democrat, but he adds people need to realize Native Americans are an independent population. Belcourt says the problem is getting those 60,000 voters to the polls so their voices can be heard.

    “You look at reservations with double digit increases in population, compared to the last Census, and the local towns and counties surrounding reservations are growing, but we don’t see them participating in the legislative process,” Belcourt says. “Hopefully we can change that with the grassroots efforts like Montana Indian Democratic Caucus.”

Jenna Cederberg

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Mark Trahant


Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. Trahant’s recent book, “The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars,” is the story of Sen. Henry Jackson and Forrest Gerard.

Congress has a long to-do list to complete before the end of the year.

It must enact a budget, either a real one, or for most federal agencies, a Continuing Resolution that funds the government after the current one expires on Dec. 16. Many ask: “Why doesn’t Congress just pass the budget?” Because neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have enough votes to say yes, but they do have enough votes to reject the alternative.

Still, Congress must pass a new round of payroll tax cuts and extend unemployment benefits or both of those programs will expire at the end of the year.

Currently Republicans are adding all sorts of amendments that have little to do with either a budget or a tax cut. The House bill on the payroll tax, for example, requires a 60-day deadline for permitting the Keystone XL Pipeline to pipe oil from Northern Alberta across Montana, South Dakota and other states in the midwest. There is significant opposition to the pipeline construction from Indian Country. The National Congress of American Indians in June said: “The Keystone XL pipeline . . . would threaten, among other things, water aquifers, water ways, cultural sites, agricultural lands, animal life, public drinking water sources and other resources vital to the peoples of the region in which the pipeline is proposed to be constructed.”

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Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. Trahant’s new book, “The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars,” is the story of Sen. Henry Jackson and Forrest Gerard.

By Mark Trahant

Mark Trahant

Mark Trahant

We hate health care reform. The bill was too many pages, too complicated and didn’t fix all the problems right now, this minute. (One of America’s core democratic values is our impatience.)

But the why is fascinating. Many of us hate the reform bill because it went too far; but most of us are unhappy because health care reform didn’t go far enough. We wanted more action, a smarter health care system, even, more government to make our health care system work smarter.

Yet that voter angst – both for and against – set the stage for this November election and the Republicans’ Pledge to America. “In a self-governing society, the only bulwark against the power of the state is the consent of the governed, and regarding the policies of the current government, the governed do not consent,” the pledge says. (Except that some of us do give our consent.)

Elections are policy choices. And this GOP Pledge is a clear guide about what Republicans would do if given power. There are significant implications for Indian Country in this document (even though American Indians and Alaska Natives aren’t mentioned at all).

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