Opinion | Politics

Mark Trahant: North Dakota draws even more Native political candidates

Cesar Alvarez, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, and Denise Juneau, a fellow tribal citizen, are among the many Native Americans seeking public office in 2016. Photo from Cesar Alvarez for ND State House of Representatives / Facebook

#NativeVote16 – Native North Dakota
By Mark Trahant
Trahant Reports

North Dakota now has three Native American candidates running for statewide office. Chase Iron Eyes was nominated recently by the state’s Democratic Party as their candidate for the state’s only seat in Congress. Now this week Ruth Buffalo filed for the post of Insurance Commissioner. And Marlo Hunte-Beaubrun will seek a seat on the three-member Public Services Commission. Both Buffalo and Hunte-Beaubrun are running as Democrats (technically representing the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party).

Count ’em: Three statewide campaigns.

Ruth Buffalo, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, is running for Insurance Commissioner in North Dakota. Photo from North Segment of the Three Affiliated Tribes / Facebook

Buffalo is a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes. She has been a Bush Fellow, identified as a leader bringing expertise to finding “sustainable solutions to the tough problems that face Native people and nations.” She has also directed the United Tribes Wellness Center, coached men’s and women’s basketball and taught other wellness-related activities. North Dakota Business Watch named her as a “40 under 40 leader” in 2010. She holds a BS in criminal justice from Huron University and a master’s in management from the University of Mary. The commissioner post manages the state’s insurance department.

Hunte-Beaubrun has filed to run against the current chairman of the Public Service Commission, Julie Fedorchak. According to the Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College Facebook page, Hunte-Beaubrun is director for the college’s new Entrepreneurship Center. She has also been executive director of the Great Plains Economic and Commerce Association and is a Standing Rock Sioux tribal member.

The Public Service Commission regulates the oil and gas industry as well as telecommunications, weights and measures, and pipelines. In January the agency approved the Dakota Access Pipeline. (Previous: Pipelines, rail cars, and the price of oil)

Marlo Hunte-Beaubrun, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, is running for a seat on the North Dakota Public Services Commission. Photo from Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College / Facebook

In addition to the statewide races, longtime educator David Gipp is running for the North Dakota Senate. Most recently Gipp has been chancellor of the United Tribes Technical College and is one of the founders of the school. Gipp is Standing Rock Sioux. He would represent the Mandan area.

Another Three Affiliated Tribal Member, Cesar Alvarez, is running for the State House of Representatives. He wrote on his Facebook page: “Paperwork is all filed and have been certified by the ND Secretary of State’s Office to be officially placed on the June 14th North Dakota Primary Election Ballot for the office of District 4 House of Representatives as the Democratic-NPL candidate! It’s full speed on to the primary! I need each and every one of your vote and support on June 14th and November 8th!”

Sen. Richard Marcellais, Turtle Mountain Chippewa, is not up for re-election until 2018

There are two more legislative candidates who are enrolled members of federally recognized tribes: District 32 House candidate Cheryl Ann Kary, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and District 22 Senate candidate Steve Allard, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. (See State office candidates spreadsheet)

It’s been said that this is an outsider’s election. And I’ve written before that you cannot get any more “outsider” than running a Native American candidate. North Dakota is putting these two ideas to the test.

Mark Trahant is the Charles R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Journalism at the University of North Dakota. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. On Twitter @TrahantReports

Related Stories:
Mark Trahant: Another big year for Native American candidates (4/12)

Join the Conversation