Native Vote Counts More in ’14 According to the Math



Mark Trahant, 9/8/14, Indian Country Today


So what if you had more votes than everyone else? What if your vote counted more? Would you?

Well, on Tuesday the primary season ends with elections in the Northeast. And in one of those states — New York — a candidate for governor, is illustrating exactly that extra voting power. It’s what could happen with Native American voters in 2014.

Zephyr Teachout is running a rag-tag campaign against the machine of incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo. She insists that she’s going to win. On Saturday she told MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki that her route to victory will be the “miniscule” turnout in the primary. She said she will win the primary with 300,000 to 350,000 votes. In the last general election, Cuomo earned nearly 3 million votes.

Think of that: A primary vote is worth roughly 10 times that of a general election ballot. It’s because turnout is so low.


Mark Trahant
Mark Trahant


Remember Eric Cantor? The former House majority leader was defeated by primary challenger David Brat. Brat only won 36,110 votes — less than five percent of that district’s voters.

Low-turnout elections, whether primary or the general, favor the few, the organized, and, perhaps, Native voters.

How can that be? Let’s play with some numbers.

We know that New Mexico has the highest registration rate for Native American voters at 77 percent. That’s step one. And what if that were the standard? What if three-quarters of all eligible American Indians and Alaska Natives were registered to vote?

In Alaska, for example, the total registration for white voters is 71.1 percent, or roughly 362,000 people (figures from the Voter Elections Project and National Commission on Voting Rights.) Alaska Natives could be at least 17.1 percent of that or 87,210 votes. But current estimates are far below that — as low as 43,605.

So if we use New Mexico as the standard? Then the potential vote of Alaska Natives increases by at least 67,238, a difference of nearly 24,000 registered voters.

In a low turnout election, as 2014 is likely to be, that’s a pool of voters that every candidate would want to woo. (Remember it only took some 36,000 votes to knock off the next Speaker of the House, Rep. Cantor.)

Of course that’s just registration numbers. Step one. But the deadline for that first step is coming up across the country. Most states require registration 30 days before Election Day.

One phrase I’ve used a lot in this piece is “at least.” Let me explain. All of the numbers I am using are not precise and they’re based on elections past. But every year there is a growing number of first-time voters.

This is Indian country’s greatest advantage. Here are six more numbers to think about: 18, 11 and 19. And, 15, 23, and 16.

In 2008, when Barack Obama was first on the ballot, people 18 to 29 accounted for 18 percent of the electorate. Then, two years later, that same group voted in smaller numbers and only were 11 percent of the total. Then, two years ago, the young voter was back and it grew to 19 percent of the pie. On the other hand, older voters, 65 and older, were 15 percent of the total in 2008, rose to 23 percent in 2010 and dropped again to 16 percent in 2012. Older voters are reliable and show up. Younger voters not so much.

Indian country has the youngest population in America. Our percentage of potential young voters is growing faster than the population.

There are already success stories to shout out. In New Mexico and Montana, young Native American men, between 18 and 24, are registered at the highest rate of all Native American voters (just shy of 9-out-of-10.)

The whole premise of registering Native Americans to vote is simple, so that we can have a fair say in how this country is run and to better shape programs from health to education that determine our future.

A fair say? Pfffft. For Indian country the election of 2014 is about having a disproportionate say. Our votes will count more this time around. So will we?

Mark Trahant holds the Atwood Chair at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. For up-to-the-minute posts, download the free Trahant Reports app for your smart phone or tablet.



Tribal Journeys to Bella Bella 2014

Source: First Nations in British Columbia


From Date: Sunday, July 13, 2014

To Date: Saturday, July 19, 2014

Location:  Journey to Bella Bella for Qatuwas II


Description: Following traditional protocol the Heiltsuk sent canoes to invite both the North and South coastal First Nations once again to Bella Bella for the Qatuwas “People gathering together”- Festival from July 13th – July 19th 2014. We expect over 100 canoes with over 1,000 pullers and about 5,000 visitors to join us for this important event.


Invitation to Bella Bella for Tribal Journey in 2014

Helitsuk hosted the Qatuwas Festival in Bella Bella in 1993, and have been actively involved in modern day canoe resurgence. The Heiltsuk leadership invite the canoe nations to once again journey to Bella Bella for Qatuwas II “people are coming together” in 2014. Our intent is to host the gathering in our new Bighouse.


Pulling Together

The ocean going canoe is our traditional mode of transportation. Participants in Tribal Journeys learn traditional ecological knowledge of weather and tides, gain respect for the ocean and its power, and work together as a team to build on individual strengths.

This year, Helitsuk youth had the opportunity to paddle to Neah Bay, Washigton. Helitsuk acknowledge the generosity of our hosts, the Makah Tribe. we also acknowledge our Hemas (traditional leaders) and elected leaders who endorsed the journey, and are thankful for the support of the community organizations.

The Heiltsuk Integrated Resources Management Department (HIRMD) is building capacity to achieve long term sustainability of not only natural resources, but also Heiltsuk human resources. HIRMD is working with QQS Projects Society and out youth on an engagement strategy related to science and culture, to ensure that youth are ready, willing and able to replace the HIRMD managers and staff over time. We plan to train coordinators and facilitators in planning processes, and employ youth to organize and participate in a canoe gathering in Bella Bella in 2014.

For decades the Hemas and elders have seen the need for a Bighouse in Bella Bella. Funds were raised to support some of the anticipated costs of construction and projects management. A team of supporters with the Kvai Projects Society are moving forward to realize the Bighouse goal.


The Journey Ahead

In the year ahead we will research and develop a strategic plan for Qatuwas II and the Bighouse project. We are interested in trade and barter to secure financial resources for project implementations.

The Heiltsuk territory still contains stands of old growth cedar. We would like to explore the idea of Nation to Nation protocols to allow us to share access to old growth cedar from Heiltsuk territory for canoes and ceremonial house logs, in exchange for financial resources to cover the costs of building the Heiltsuk Bighouse to host the 2014 Tribal Journeys. Another goal is to organize an intertribal exchange between the Heiltsuk and Washington State tribes to share information about governance, resources management, business and investment.

Please support Qatuwas 2014

We are a small community with limited resources, however, we are determined to make Qatuwas 2014 a success. We are seeking support from other First Nations, private and public donors.

Your support will allow us to organize this gathering with a dedicated team of staff and volunteers to take care of accommodation, transportation, food, sanitation needs, festival logistics, protocol planning, support for Big House construction, programming and communications.

We believe that bringing together youth and elders to celebrate our traditions and culture will strengthen us as a people and a community.

Qatuwas 2014 will let our youth experience the importance of the Glwa that connects us so much to our lands and seas. It fills our elders with pride to see our culture and traditions continue to live on through our young people.

The Heiltsuk Hemas (Hereditary Chiefs) and the Heiltsuk Tribal Council are proud to support Qatuwas 2014.


To discuss trade and barter possibilities contact:

Kathy Brown Email: | Heiltsuk Tribal Council, Box 880, Bella Bella, BC, V0T 1Z0


The Bella Bella Big House – Heart of our Culture



Tribal Journeys to Bella Bella 2014

Be Prepared in 2014: Make Preparedness Part of Your New Year

From Darryl Madden, Director of FEMA Ready Campaign

For many, the New Year is a time for setting goals and making new resolutions for the year to come. If you are anything like me, each year you find yourself resolving to achieve a healthier lifestyle – eating right, exercising more, losing a few pounds.

Setting personal health goals in the New Year is great, but improving overall well-being involves taking actions to be prepared. Knowing what to do in an emergency is vital to the health and safety of you and your loved ones.

This year, the Ready Campaign is challenging you to be Prepared in 2014. Start the New Year by connecting with family and friends on the importance of preparedness. Not only can the information shared potentially save a life, connecting with those you love has an added benefit. People who have strong social connections tend to be healthier and more resilient.

I know the hardest part of keeping a resolution is sustaining it after those first few weeks of the year, but you don’t have to do it all at once.

First, start by simply having the conversation: who to call, where to meet and what to pack in an emergency.

Build your family’s emergency supply kit by picking up recommended emergency items over the first month or two of the year.

Create a preparedness checklist. This should include things such as emergency phone numbers and copies of important documents, and information on how to register for programs such as the American Red Cross Safe and Well website.

Set reminders throughout the year to talk about and update your family emergency communication plan. If you have children, include them in conversations and planning activities. The Ready Campaign has age-appropriate tools and resources you can use to introduce disaster preparedness to them. And you can learn more about talking with kids after disasters so you’re ready to help them through tough situations.

Have pets? Make sure they are a part of your planning process. Create a pet go-bag to help keep them safe during an emergency. Find helpful tips from FEMA on how to plan for your furry friends

Older adults often have special needs in a disaster and may depend on medications or other special requirements. If older adults are a part of your social connection, be sure to include them in your preparedness planning efforts.

Emergencies can and will happen, but being ready can minimize the impact they have on the overall well-being of you and your family.

This year, make disaster preparedness part of your New Year’s resolution. On January 1st 2014, join the Resolve To Be Ready Thunderclap to promote a message of preparedness to your social connections on New Year’s Day. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #Prepared2014 whenever you discuss family preparedness on Twitter.