Theron "Scarlet Raven" Thompson in Native Condition. Discussion »
The US Senate race in North Dakota has become one of the most contested races in the country.
This race could come down to a matter of hundreds of votes in a few remote reservation counties to decide this important race. It has become a potential "hold" for the Democrats, when only a few months ago it was considered an easy pick-up for the Republicans by having first term, multi-millionaire member of Congress, Rick Berg, make the jump up to the US Senate from the House of Representatives.
Over the summer this has become an extremely competitive race, not just because of Berg's extreme views being put under the microscope, one of those views was ND House Bill 1489, which would make abortion a class AA felony, even in the case of rape or incest.
The race has tightened because of the surprising grass roots approach of Democratic standard bearer, former North Dakota Attorney General, Heidi Heitkamp.
The race has gone from a Berg + 9 to a statistical dead heat with some polls showing either Berg or Heitkamp in the lead. Millions of dollars in out of state money has been pouring into North Dakota from both sides as well as independent PACs.
Berg is the 13th wealthiest member of Congress and is tapping some of his own wealth to graduate from the House to the Senate after less than one term in office.
In 2008, President Obama won 13 of the 53 counties, 8 of those 13 counties are part of the five Indian Reservations in North Dakota. So in a tight US Senate race and a throw away Presidential race (President Obama lost North Dakota by 9 points in 2008 and is trailing Romney by 14, 54-40, in 2012), getting a strong turn-out from the 8 counties on the five reservations plus a strong Native turn-out in the cities of Fargo and Grand Forks with a population of 3,200, could keep the Senate seat in the Democratic column.
In a Frontline story from 2008, PBS nationally Native Americans vote democrat by as much at 95 percent. Some statistics from the 1996 Senate race in Montana between Democrat Jon Tester and the GOP candidate Conrad Burns had some Tribal counties voting for the democrat at an 83 percent margin, if those same statics bear out in North Dakota, the Native American vote could be the deciding factor.
There are five federally recognized Indian Tribes in North Dakota (Standing Rock Sioux, Three Affiliated, Turtle Mountain Ojibwe, Spirit Lake Sioux, and Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate), the total Native American population is 36,591 who identify as American Indian only, which is 5.4 percent of the total population of 672,592. Others that identify as mixed, including American Indian is 42,996 or 6.4 percent of the population. The telling data is that 55 percent of the Native-only population live on the five reservations in North Dakota while the others live off-reservation, this is a very important constituency for either party.
One of the most important ways that Indian country can gauge how a candidate will treat us after they are elected is:
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Theron "Scarlet Raven" Thompson is an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate (Dakota Sioux) of the Lake Traverse Reservation. He publishes articles on Tribal Issues, Energy, Economic Development, Business, Gaming, and Marketing. He can be reached at www.scarletravenpowwow.blogspot.com
posted October 29, 2012 10:20 am edt