Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his running mate Mike Pence at the Republican National Convention in July 2016. Photo: Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.

Donald Trump touts Indian Country supporters but offers no policy

With just days left before the November 8 election and more than 16 months after launching his campaign, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has finally lined up some Indian Country supporters.

But while the Native American Coalition vowed to help the real estate mogul secure victory next week, Trump did not say what he would actually do for Indian Country if he wins. Instead, supporters spoke in general terms of the need to ease federal regulations.

"The daily flood of new federal regulations keep Indian Country from becoming self-sufficient," said Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Oklahoma), a member of the Cherokee Nation who is chairing the new group. "Local tribal decisions, not federal bureaucrats, are the best way to improve our communities."

"As both an enrolled member of Cherokee Nation and a Member of Congress, I will stand with Donald Trump in supporting tribal sovereignty and reining in federal overregulation," Mullin added.

The lack of any goals, promises or policies in the announcement stands in contrast to that of Trump's Democratic rival. Earlier this year, Hillary Clinton offered a much more concrete vision of the steps she would take to respect and promote tribal sovereignty.

And the new coalition pales in comparison to the list of prominent tribal leaders, activists and citizens who are supporting Clinton. Besides Mullin -- who has acknowledged playing down his Indian heritage during his Congressional campaigns -- Trump's group consists of only a few recognizable names.

And not all of the names inspire confidence. One of the co-chairs is Ross Swimmer, another Cherokee citizen who endures widespread scorn throughout Indian Country because of his tenure at the Bureau of Indian Affairs during the Reagan administration and his work at the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians during the Bush years.

Another co-chair is Eddie Tullis, the treasurer and former chairman of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. While he is generally respected among his peers, his defense of a huge casino expansion on sacred ground in Alabama has undermined his influence and hurt his stature.

And even though Mullin, who is running for re-election, insisted that he would "stand with Donald Trump in supporting tribal sovereignty" he voted against the Violence Against Women Act in 2013. The historic law recognizes the "inherent" authority of tribes to prosecute non-Indians who abuse their domestic partners.

The final co-chair of Trump's Native American Coalition is Sharon Clachischillage, a member of the Navajo Nation who serves as a lawmaker in New Mexico. The honorary co-chair is Fleming Begaye, Sr., who served as a Navajo Code Talker during World War II.

“Native Americans need a federal government that gets out of the way of small business," Begaye said in the announcement. "As an independent and a successful small businessman, I crossed the line this week and voted for Mr. Trump.”

The list of Donald Trump's Native American supporters, with more promised in the coming days, follows:
Native American Coalition:
Chair: U.S. Representative Markwayne Mullin (Cherokee), Oklahoma
Honorary Chair: Fleming Begaye, Sr., Navajo Code Talker (Navajo), Arizona

New Mexico State Representative Sharon Clachischillage (Navajo), New Mexico
The Honorable Ross Swimmer(Cherokee), Oklahoma
Former Poarch Band of Creek Indian Chairman Eddie Tullis (Poarch Band Creek), Alabama

Members of the Coalition:
Debra Kilgore, Alabama
Amy Begay, Arizona
Gloria Esquerra, Arizona
Trenton Nez, Arizona
Tanya Yazzie, Arizona
Laurie Everidge, California
Dawn Ishcomer, California
Rene Keener, California
Gregory Licht, California
Jody (Everidge) Robison, California
Darrick Woolever, California
Diane Woolever, California
Charles “Charlie” Cheek, Florida
Michael Harrison, Florida
Joann Whitaker, Florida
Billy Kirkland, Georgia
Aaron Barnard, Indiana
Anita Henry, Michigan
Steven Morello, Michigan
Tom Yazzie, Minnesota
Laurel Eckert, Missouri
Danny Nez, New Mexico
Megan Tsosie, New Mexico
Alice Mae Yazzie, New Mexico
Martin Graves, New York
McDuffie Cummings, North Carolina
James Sherbaugh, Jr., Ohio
Samuel “Dutch” Hillenburg, Virginia
Lynn Armitage, Wisconsin

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