Killer, Iron Cloud are new representatives for South Dakota district

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ANADARKO, Okla. — The returns came in slowly for South Dakota House District 27, showing Republican candidates Dawn Rasmussen and Kenny Fox ahead of Democratic co-candidates Kevin Killer and Ed Iron Cloud, who are both members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

But when the returns came in for the Indian communities within Shannon, Bennett and Jackson counties, the people of Pine Ridge Reservation made their voice heard and elected two of their own to represent them. By the time the last ballot counts came in from Wanblee, S.D. at approximately 1:30 a.m. CST, Killer had the most votes with 2,750 votes at 26.4 percent and Iron Cloud receiving the second-highest count at 2,402 votes and 23.06 percent of the district’s vote.

“I made a prediction, and it came true,” Iron Cloud said in a phone interview shortly after the final results, commenting on the prediction made to Indian Country Today in a previous interview. “I’m really happy. I know that I want to make the state government more open, where people feel more open with it.”

Iron Cloud, resident of Porcupine, S.D., also said that his goals upon entering office is to “educate the legislature as to who we are as a people,” in terms of American Indian issues such as living conditions, and that he wanted to work with “both sides of the aisle” upon being sworn in as representative in January.

ICT also tried to contact Killer upon the final vote counts, but was at first unsuccessful. After catching up with Killer by phone later in the day, Killer admitted that his cell phone battery died after receiving many calls of congratulations, making him temporarily unavailable.

“I’m just trying to figure out what’s next,” Killer said. “It’s a little overwhelming, but I’m thankful for the support from Native communities.”

Killer said that his goals upon entering office center on working with the relationship between tribal governments and the state of South Dakota “as it relates to education, health care, law enforcement and economic development, especially gaming and alternative energy.”

Killer added that the election of both himself and Iron Cloud can be attributed to the “Get Out the Vote” efforts made within Native communities. Historically, Killer said that Shannon County, which is within Pine Ridge Reservation, has the lowest voter turnout in the entire state.

However, in this election, Killer said that Shannon County voted 95 percent to re-elect Senator Tim Johnson, D-S.D., 95 percent to re-elect Rep. Stephanie Herseth, D-S.D., and 88 percent for Senator Barack Obama, D-Ill., for President. To Killer, this high turnout within Shannon County alone “showed people the power of the Native vote” and that it should receive greater emphasis in future elections, he said.