Native American Voting has Impact on Midterm Elections

By Kaili Berg

     On Monday, October 24-25, Four Directions, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), and Wisconsin tribes hosted a midterm elections forum in Madison, Wisconsin. Local and state candidates answered critical questions with issues important to Native Americans in Wisconsin and Indian Country before voting begins in November.

     Ho-Chunk Nation President, Marlon WhiteEagle was in attendance to ask important questions regarding issues and concerns within the Ho-Chunk Nation and other tribal governments.

     “One of the things I am most proud of within my first term as Governor is our working relationship with leaders of the tribal nations and their constituents. We have lot of opportunity to have even more success in the future and will continue to meet monthly at minimum, and talk about issues that are impacting the Nation and Wisconsin and how they intersect,” said Governor, Tony Evers.

     “A lot of the gambling revenue that comes to the state of Wisconsin from the Tribal Nation’s is a significant amount of money, and we’ve tried twice now to move some of that back into the Tribal Nations to fund some of the services that they need and will continue.”

     Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, the Democratic Party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate seat, now held by incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), attended virtually and answered questions on his future plans.

     “There’s still so much more work to be done, and we don’t have the representation in Washington that we deserve, but we know that if we are going to change Washington, we have to change the people that we send to Washington,” said Lt. Gov. Barnes.

     “That work starts today, because when I hear them read about the history of our state and Native Americans, I learn about resistance, and when I look around today I see resilience, and I also see the power of the people to elect a senator that supports and respects tribal sovereignty and one that takes pride in celebrating history and power of the Native American community. We have so much more to be proud of, but we also have so much hardships, but through all these struggles, I promise you I will fight for you in Washington.”

     In 2020 the Native vote made a huge impact during election time. Despite the challenges faced during COVID-19, Indian Country was engaged in local and national voting as evidence shows that voting for Native Americans in 2020 was the highest it has ever been.

     Data analyzed by NCAI (National Congress of American Indians) showed that American Indians and Alaskan Native voting age population percentage in 7 states was larger than the voting margin that determined the winner, meaning Native people’s voice had a huge role in determining those elections.

     This trend will continue to grow, as Native American population is one of the youngest and fastest growing populations in the country.

     “We not only go to the polls for our future, but to respect our past. Our ancestors fought long and hard for Native people to vote. When we go to the polls and voice our opinions, we honor those who came before and made sacrifices, so we could determine our own futures.” said Larry Wright Jr, Executive director for NCAI.

     “Every vote counts, every Native vote counts, and every Native vote matters.”