ANADARKO, Okla. – Ed Iron Cloud III spoke with confidence when he talked with Indian Country Today about the upcoming general election in November, where he is a co-Democratic candidate for South Dakota’s House District 27 along with Kevin Killer.
“Me and Kevin – we’ll win,” Iron Cloud said in a recent phone interview, urging all within his district to “please get out there and vote.”
His confidence is well deserved, where Iron Cloud, 44, and Killer shared 61 percent of the Democratic primary between them. This election cycle has also seen a largely increased voter turnout for the district as a whole.
Iron Cloud, known to many as “Buz,” is a lifelong resident of Porcupine, S.D., and has a long history of community involvement on the Pine Ridge reservation. His previous work includes being a member of the Great Plains Restoration Council, a former board member of the Oglala Lakota College Center at Porcupine, and a former member of the OLC board of trustees. Earning a degree in electrical construction maintenance at OLC, Iron Cloud has also worked with Wakanyeja Pawicayapi, “The Children First,” an organization dedicated to helping abused children by teaching Lakota traditions. Currently, he is involved in agriculture and manages a small herd of buffalo for his family.
“We’re using that buffalo to help us re-strengthen and reconnect with our history, our lifeways, our culture. We use the meat for ceremonial purposes. We do a ceremony for young men coming of age. We go out and kill a buffalo – with protocol and prayer.”
Iron Cloud said he wants to hear the concerns of both Indians and non-Indians within his district, and believes that he will be a good candidate for the job based on his previous community experience.
“I want to be a candidate who listens to all people, whether they be Native or non-Native. I want to bring more people into the process. I work with people to get them more involved and really understand how the process works, and that their voice has and will make a difference.”
His reasons for being involved in politics go back to family involvement and what he sees as the need to bring more knowledge of Native issues to South Dakota state government. These issues include being an advocate for children and families, an inadequate number of doctors on reservations, a need to be an advocate for veterans, and work on solutions to youth dropouts and substance abuse.
“The major issues I see are the funding levels are getting less and less,” Iron Cloud said. “The other issue I see is that the federal government is sending more and more resources and grants for the states to disperse among the tribes. It’s pitting us against each other. Our treaty was to deal with the United States government on a one-to-one basis. Now what they’re doing is sidestepping their responsibility.”
Another issue involves agriculture. Iron Cloud, who has a ranching background, said that a lot of the problems that ranchers have in the state of South Dakota include a combination of a bad economy with years of drought.
“Right now, the economy is in the dumps. That’s the same way it is right now with the ranching industry. You’re producing a product and you’re selling it wholesale, and you’re buying everything to produce that product retail. The gas could be four-fifty to five bucks next year. The price that you’re receiving for your animal stays the same.”
A large part of his campaign has been listening to others and hearing their concerns. He said that he knows he isn’t alone as a potential leader, and he needs the support of those within his community on all levels.
“I believe that people really need to be listened to and taking the time to hear their concerns. I myself can’t do it alone. I need help. The help that I’m going to seek is through how we do everything else. We’ll use all the resources of the world. We’ll use prayer, bring our traditional people in. We’ll use our elders. I’ve got a lot of plans,” which, he said, include more youth involvement.
“I want to use our resources wisely, and our most valuable resources would be our human resources.”
Overall, Iron Cloud said that he would be a good candidate because of his own personal experiences and his desire to be the best elected official possible.
“I believe that I know the issues and concerns of Indian country. I’ve been a part of Indian country. I’ve worked in different areas – tribal government and education. I know a lot of people who make the decisions. I believe I’d be the best candidate because I want to be there. I want to be there and try my best. I want to bring our issues to the forefront and not be pushed to the back, as I feel we have in the past.”