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Saturday, November 8, 2008

22 Natives From 11 States, 16 Tribes Win Elections

22 Natives From 11 States, 16 Tribes Win Elections

November 5, 2008
TULSA, Okla.—INDN's List made history Tuesday when 22 American Indian candidates from 11 states and 16 tribes won their state and local elections, including Denise Juneau (Three Affiliated Tribes) who is the first American Indian woman elected to statewide office in Montana, and only the third tribal member ever elected statewide.

Juneau is the Superintendent of Public Instruction-Elect in Montana, winning 50.74 percent of the vote. Juneau and her staff attended INDN Campaign Camp in 2007, where she was trained on all aspects of campaigning. Throughout the campaign, Juneau faced down anti-Indian rhetoric and was the first Indian woman to run statewide and face anti-Indian scorn.

With the results on Nov. 4, INDN's List has 23 candidates who won this cycle, with Bruce Curnutt (Choctaw) overwhelmingly winning his Sheriff's race in the Oklahoma runoff election in August.

"This is not just an historic year for America, but for Indian Country as we elected more tribal members to state and local office than ever before," said Kalyn Free (Choctaw), president of INDN's List. "In 2006, we elected 20 American Indians, and in 2008 we elected 23. Because of our efforts at INDN's List, tribal members are engaged at all levels of government in an unprecedented manner. To shape history, you have to be willing to make it."

In the South Dakota Legislature, two Campaign Camp alumni, Kevin Killer and Ed Iron Cloud III, won both seats in District 27, gaining Democratic seats there. They both attended INDN Campaign Camp 2007, and they are both enrolled members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

In Pennsylvania, Barbara McIlvaine Smith (Sac & Fox) won after being targeted by Republicans. She won the seat narrowly in 2006, when INDN's List first endorsed her, and flipped control of the Pennsylvania Legislature to the Democrats. Last night, she was victorious again.

Todd Gloria (Tlingit-Haida) won his San Diego City Council race at age 30, becoming the youngest member on the council and giving Democrats a 5-3 advantage.

With winners in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming, and 23 out of 37 endorsed candidates winning, INDN's List has an impressive 69 percent total win rate.
By assisting American Indians with achieving elected office, INDN's List is ensuring that issues that affect Indian Country are heard in state legislatures, city halls, and county jails and courthouses across the country.

"It was a bittersweet evening as not all of our candidates were successful," Free said. "We have tremendous respect for our first-time INDN candidates who challenged Republican incumbents but came up short.

"Our hearts are particularly heavy as we lost two excellent advocates for Indian Country, with the losses of Rep. Scott BigHorse in Oklahoma and Rep. Don Barlow in Washington. They will be deeply missed in their state's legislative chambers. Scott and Don have been champions of progressive causes and outstanding role models and leaders for all of Indian Country.
Unfortunately, they were attacked and defeated for being just that. If they stand again, INDN's List will proudly stand with them."

Of the INDN's List winning candidates, six are women, 11 are first-time office holders, two are upsets and several attended INDN training.

Courtney Ruark is political director of INDN'S List, a nonprofit that recruits and trains Democratic Native American political candidates.

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