National | Politics

Charles Trimble: Indians shouldn't waste votes on wild-cards

Charles Trimble. Photo by Native Sun News

In his article of October 6th, 2014, Tim Giago takes on Democratic senatorial candidate Rick Weiland for stealing his concept to rebuild Indian country based on the historic Marshall Plan. For younger Indian voters, the Marshall Plan was enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Truman in 1947 authorizing billions of dollars to help rebuild much of Europe devastated by World War II.

First of all about the idea of an Indian Marshall Plan: Over the years I have heard a number of tribal leaders use the Marshall Plan as a model in suggesting a massive federal investment into Indian Country to solve its massive problems. After all, as Mr. Giago has proposed, if the U.S. could be so generous in rebuilding its foes after conquest, why can’t it do the same with the Indian nations it destroyed in conquest?

It’s a valid question except for the fact that the Marshall Plan was not meant as reparation on the part of the United States, but was put forth to rebuild European markets for trade, and to keep those countries dependent on and loyal to the West in the face of the Soviet grab to take in countries and expand the communist bloc. The whole thing was driven by the need to stimulate America’s own economy, which needed re-charging following the industrial diversions and massive outlays for WWII.

And it was driven by fear of Soviet conquest of all of Europe. No such incentives exist to drive a similar plan in Indian Country, so it is unrealistic and a waste of time and resources to push for such an approach, especially with the mess we have in the Capitol these days. So that idea ought to be put aside.

But apparently in retaliation to Weiland’s theft of Mr. Giago’s plan, he has given the endorsement of his newspaper, Native Sun News, to Larry Pressler, Independent candidate for the senate seat vacated by the retiring Democratic Senator Tim Johnson, a proven friend of tribes in South Dakota. But my long-time friend Tim Giago should have carefully mulled over some important considerations before lending his powerful voice in support of any candidate.

It is extremely flattering to have national politicians calling to get your personal endorsement for his or her candidacy, especially when you have grown up in poverty in those same political venues, as Tim Giago has. The Press is a powerful weapon, and that power is a tempting and retributive weapon to handle. But it is also vitally important to consider all possible consequences of his endorsement when his readers might take that endorsement as encouragement for them to do the same with their ballots. That is why politicians want his endorsement – they want his readers’ votes.

What is of the greatest importance in Washington today is partisan majority control, especially now with the hate-filled terrorism of the so-called Tea Party that has taken over control of the GOP. If the Republican Party gains control of both houses of Congress, it will be the Tea Party that is in control, because they have bullied the party and control it; there is no Republican legislator that will face them down.

And if by chance Mike Rounds is done in by his own arrogance and looming scandals and Pressler should get elected, he won’t carry his “Independent” label for long. He’s a life-long Republican and will fall in line with the Tea Party agenda. He is running as an Independent only because he entered the race too late to get onto the Republican slate.

I fully agree with Mark Trahant in his column: South Dakota is crucial to any plan to keep the U.S. Senate from going Republican and joining the House of Representatives in its Tea Party mischief of forcing approval of the Keystone XL pipeline issue, dismantling the Affordable Care Act, butcher-block budget cutting, and undermining President Obama in every way. One person can swing that Majority, and it appears that with Giago’s endorsement, Pressler can take away Indian votes that would usually go for Democrat Weiland; and Mike Rounds will then sail into office and the Tea Party will hold hostage the Congress and the White House.

Indian Country can have a say in the matter, but only if each and every eligible voter in the reservation and off-reservation communities takes the time to register and vote. It’s not the time to be flattered into endorsing wild-card candidates like Pressler, or wasting votes on them.

Charles "Chuck" Trimble is a member of the Oglala Lakota Oyate, born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He was principal founder of the American Indian Press Association in 1970, and served as Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians from 1972-1978. He can be reached at or

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