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Aliyah Chavez
Indian Country Today

All four Native women running for office in Wyoming have won their primary elections, including Democrat Lynnette Grey Bull, who is believed to be the first Native person in the state to run for Congress.

Grey Bull, Northern Arapaho and Hunkpapa Lakota, is seeking a U.S. House seat. She easily defeated two opponents Tuesday but faces a difficult race in November, when she is set to go up against Republican incumbent Liz Cheney. 

"Today, on the centennial of the 19th Amendment, Wyoming Democrats chose to vote for an Indigenous woman," Grey Bull said in a statement. 

"My friends, you made history today; in Wyoming statewide elections, women of color are now not only in the room where the glass ceiling is, you made it possible for us to shatter it."

Grey Bull invited Cheney to a debate on the Wind River reservation or at her home, citing coronavirus precautions. 

She serves as vice president of the Global Indigenous Council, an Indigenous rights advocacy organization, and is a first-time candidate.

Grey Bull was among at least 17 Native candidates competing for various offices in Alaska and Wyoming's primary elections Tuesday.

Wyoming's other winners were legislative candidates Andi Clifford, Northern Arapho; Affie Ellis, Navajo; and Valaira Whiteman, Northern Arapaho. 

Clifford, the incumbent, will run against Whiteman in November for a state House seat. Ellis is seeking reelection to the state Senate.

(Related: Native women pave new path in Wyoming politics)

Florida also held its primaries Tuesday, but no Natives appeared to be running.

In heavily Republican Alaska, two Native Democratic candidates ran unsuccessfully for Congress.

Edgar Blatchford, Inupiaq and Yup’ik, competed for a U.S. Senate seat, facing three contenders in Tuesday’s primary. The winner of the primary was Al Gross, who received 78 percent of the vote. He will go up against the Republican incumbent, Daniel Sullivan, in November.

(Related: Republican turned Democrat runs for U.S. Senate in Alaska)

Blatchford is a former journalist and newspaper publisher. Since 1995, he’s been a University of Alaska professor teaching journalism, public communications and Alaska Native Studies courses.

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He is also the former mayor of Seward, a southern Alaska port town. In 2016, Blatchford ran for lieutenant governor of Alaska and lost in the primary.

Ray Sean Tugatuk, Yup’ik, ran for Alaska’s sole U.S. House seat. He faced two other candidates in Tuesday’s primary: William Hibler and Alyse Galvin.

Galvin was declared the primary winner Tuesday night after receiving 85 percent of the vote. He will advance to face Republican incumbent Don Young.

Tugatuk said he became inspired to run for office after attending the statewide Alaska Federation of Natives convention. Listening and talking with people, hearing from representatives of federal, state, tribal and other entities inspired him to try to do more for his people.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, a record number of Alaskans voted by mail in Tuesday's primary, which could mean a delay before winners are declared in many races.

(Related: Southwest Alaska Yup’ik man running for U.S. Congressional seat)


Here is a breakdown of the Native candidates running for state Legislatures. Updated at 2:50pm EST on Thursday:

In Alaska, 11 Alaska Native candidates are running for state Legislature:

  • Thomas Baker, Inupiaq, AK Senate T
  • LOST: Harold Borbridge, Tlingit, AK Senate M
  • WON: Bryce Edgmon, Yup'ik, AK House 37
  • WON: Elizabeth Ferguson, Inupiaq, AK House 40
  • Neal Foster, Inupiaq, AK House 39
  • Tyler Ivanoff, Inupiaq, AK House 39
  • Lynette Moreno Hinz, Tlingit, AK Senate N
  • Calvin Moto II, Inupiaq, AK Senate T
  • WON: Donny Olson, Inupiaq, AK Senate T
  • LOST: Nicholas Willie, Yup'ik, AK Senate M
  • WON: Tiffany Zulkosky, Yup'ik, AK House 38

In Wyoming, 3 Native candidates are running for state Legislature:

  • WON: Andi Clifford, Northern Arapho, WY House 33
  • WON: Affie Ellis, Navajo, WY Senate 8
  • WON: Valaira Whiteman, Northern Arapaho, WY House 33

Follow Indian Country Today for additional primary results.

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Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter: @aliyahjchavez or email her at Indian Country Today national correspondent Joaqlin Estus, Tlingit, contributed to this report. 

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