#NATIVEVOTE16 – Chase Iron Eyes Runs in North Dakota Out of “Necessity”

Chase Iron Eyes (Photo via Last Real Indians)

Chase Iron Eyes (Photo via Last Real Indians)

Guest Commentary

Mark Trahant / TrahantReports

Published April 3, 2016

Chase Iron Eyes will officially announced his candidacy for Congress Friday at the North Dakota Democratic Convention.

“I’m running for Congress out of necessity,” he told Prairie Public Radio Thursday night. “I take a look around and I see that our government is broken, and I feel responsible to do my part to try and fix this on behalf of North Dakota.”

Iron Eyes is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, a founder of Last Real Indians, and an attorney for the Lakota People’s Law Project.

Iron Eyes, 38,  is challenging U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, a Republican.

Mark Trahant

Mark Trahant

Cramer made news by opposing provisions in the Violence Against Women Act that recognized tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians. In a 2013 post published on Last Real Indians, Melissa Merrick, a Spirit Lake tribal advocate for victims, told about an encounter with the congressman. “Cramer began what turned out to be roughly 20 minutes verbal attacks directed at me and meant for all Native people,” she wrote “Cramer stated that indeed he did vote yes on the Violence Against Women Act, but he did not agree with the Tribal Provisions and that he was sure they would be overturned in the Supreme Court.”

Merrick told Cramer about her story survival and that VAWA would have been a help. But, she wrote, Cramer responded, “Tribal Governments are dysfunctional. Tribal Courts are dysfunctional, and how could a non- Native man get a fair trial on the reservations?”

Another issue that most certainly will be a part of this debate will be energy development in North Dakota. In his interview with the Forum News Service he said the state needs to do a better job of managing an energy economy, including the environmental impacts.

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Nine to win: Native Americans running for Congress.


I’ll have more on this race over the next few weeks. This brings the number of Native Americans running for Congress to nine

(and I know of at least one more who will announce next month). I’d say that’s a record, but since no one has ever charted it before there is nothing to measure against.

My g0al is to profile each candidate with a short video. The first one in this series will be posted Sunday morning.

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

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