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Opinion. Ten days after Election Day, on Friday, the state of Arizona was called for President-elect Joe Biden by the major television networks. Even though the Associated Press and Fox News called Arizona for Biden after the polls closed on Election Day, it was conceivable the state could be won by President Donald Trump so the networks waited until they were convinced that it was not mathematically possible for the president to surpass Biden's lead.

As of Saturday, with 99 percent of the Arizona votes tallied, Biden led the one-term president by only 10,000 votes.

Since the election, media political experts have analyzed vote tallies and exit polls to determine where the presidential candidate received their support. As with other news items, American Indians and Alaska Natives are often overlooked and not even brought into consideration.

On election night, CNN did analysis of exit polls in the 2020 presidential election by race. The network’s graph listed White, Latino, Black, Asian and Something Else. While it clearly did not specify Native voters as Something Else, the category would be the only logical choice. This while the country supposedly is celebrating National Native American Heritage Month during November.

Many Native people turned CNN’s disrespectful listing into good old-fashioned Indian humor, the kind used by Native people to look at past insults and pain. Several humorous memes circulated on social media, such as “the Lone Ranger and Something Else,” and a photo meme with Forrest Gump “and just like that Natives were labeled ‘Something Else’ and they just ran with it.”

All joking aside, the “something else” vote should be more thoroughly examined by the media and politicians.

The Native vote arguably flipped Arizona for Biden.

The numbers show the strength of the Native vote in Arizona was substantial. Election results in the three counties in northeast Arizona that overlap with the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe, showed that tribal citizens in precincts voted for Joe Biden over Donald Trump. 

Down at the southern border in Arizona, the Tohono O’odham Nation turned out to tell the Trump administration what they think about the president’s border wall where federal agents dynamited sacred burial grounds during construction late last year. The rejection—or, perhaps more aptly, the repudiation—of Trump came as some precincts on the Tohono O’odham reported that Native voters cast 98 percent of their votes for the Biden-Harris ticket.

Up in Wisconsin, a swing state, Biden flipped the state back to blue.

Voting data from five Wisconsin tribal communities (Menominee, Red Cliff, Bad River, Stock-bridge Munsee and Mole Lake) showed that Biden garnered 82 percent of the votes. In Wisconsin, Biden’s margin over Trump was just over 20,000 votes. Tribal citizens living there of voting age constitute 71,463 potential voters. In this election, some 79 percent voted in the aforementioned five tribes.

“We worked hard to facilitate the Native vote in the Midwest understanding what was at stake and really turned out the vote. Especially at a time of epic challenges. Tribal Nation citizens participated and fought for truth and reconciliation and supported leadership that understands that power must come with accountability and the ability to bring us together and move us all in a forward direction. Representation truly matters,” Shannon Holsey, president of the Stockbridge Munsee Band of the Mohican Nation in Bowler, Wis., said.

The mathematics of the Native vote in Wisconsin strongly suggest Biden won the state because of the strong turnout and those who supported the Biden-Harris ticket.

"While Native Americans represent just over two percent of the total U.S. population, we represent the margin of victory in key battleground states so we can and did make the difference in this election,” Sault Ste. Marie Tribe Chairperson and National Congress of American Indians First Vice President Aaron Payment said.

From preliminary voting trends, it is clear Native voters preferred the Biden-Harris ticket. However, a notable difference took place in Robeson County, North Carolina, home to the Lumbee Tribe, which voted 58 percent for Donald Trump. In all probability, the trip Trump made to Lumberton, N.C. to show support for the Lumbee Tribe gaining federal recognition helped him win the Lumbee vote.

Both President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris gave a shout out to Native American voters in their victory speeches. At no point did they sing the praises of the “something else” vote. Unlike the mainstream media, they gave us our respect.

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About The Author
Levi Rickert
Author: Levi RickertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Levi "Calm Before the Storm" Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected].