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Carina Dominguez
Indian Country Today

WILLIAMS, Ariz. — Donald Trump Jr. headlined a rally here Thursday that marked the launch of a "Native Americans for Trump" coalition.

More than 200 people gathered at the town's rodeo grounds for the event, which featured a drum group and powwow dancers. Flags lined the stage, and a “Native Americans for Trump” banner decorated the risers.

The president's eldest son noted that Thursday was the last day to register to vote in Arizona, and he urged attendees to register and to tell their friends to do the same.

“Make sure they understand what’s at stake because it's all on the line," he said.

Supporters cheered when he cited his father's support of the military.

From left, Navajo siblings Roland Denetso, Shauntay Denetso and Tyler Denetso, members of the Standing Horse Dancers. (Photo by Carina Dominguez, Indian Country Today)

"Obama-Biden allowed our military to get dilapidated by fighting unnecessarily, spending money so those guys could get working," Trump Jr. said. "Donald Trump wants to do the opposite. He wants to bring our troops home and build up our military here, so if we need to use it, we are ready."

He also commented on news coverage, saying the "multibillion-dollar mainstream media complex" is functioning as a marketing department for the Democratic Party.

Also among the speakers were Republican U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, Cherokee, of Oklahoma, and Arizona Republican state Rep. Walt Blackman of Snowflake.

“I want you to give the Native Americans for Trump a round of applause because they are really doing it,” Blackman said. "Thank you so much." 

Some prominent Diné attendees included Myron Lizer, Navajo Nation vice president; Carlyle Begay, former Republican Arizona state senator; Karen Bedonie, former Republican candidate for U.S. House in New Mexico; and Elisa Martinez, former GOP candidate for U.S. Senate in New Mexico.

Donald Trump Jr. speaks to the crowd Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, at the Williams, Arizona, rodeo grounds. (Photo by Carina Dominguez, Indian Country Today)
People gather on risers at the Williams, Arizona, rodeo grounds under a “Native Americans for Trump” banner Thursday, Oct. 14, 2020. (Photo by Carina Dominguez, Indian Country Today)

After his speech, Trump Jr. mingled with the audience, posed for photos and watched a performance by a group of Navajo dancers.

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Robin Briggman, Hopi, of Sedona described the atmosphere as electrifying.

“It was very exciting and so great to be in a group of people who are all on the same page," the lifelong Republican and Trump supporter said. "It makes my heart feel happy."

(Related: Crow Tribal Chairman endorses Trump campaign) 

Briggman, who is 64 and partially retired, expressed confidence that under Trump’s leadership, Native people can expand infrastructure and business on reservations.

“Once our kids finish school, they leave and they don’t come back because there are no jobs," she said. "I’m worried that our traditional ways will be lost.”

The Trump campaign has been hitting Arizona hard this week as the presidential candidates make a last push before the election. 

On Wednesday, Trump Jr. was joined at a southern Arizona rally by Republican U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, who is also on the Nov. 3 ballot. He traveled to Mesa later Thursday for a "Latter-Day Saints for Trump" event.

The president’s daughter Ivanka Trump appeared in Chandler on Sunday.

Trump carried Arizona by 3.5 percentage points over Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election. During this election, however, Arizona, usually reliably Republican, is considered a swing state.

Thursday's events come a week after Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris met with several tribal leaders while campaigning in Phoenix.

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Carina Dominguez, Pascua Yaqui, is a correspondent for the Indian Country Today Newscast. She covers news, politics and environmental issues. She’s most familiar with southwest tribes and splits her time between Phoenix, Arizona and New York, New York., Twitter: @Carinad7, Instagram: @CarinaNicole7

Indian Country Today national correspondent Mary Annette Pember, Red Cliff Ojibwe, contributed to this report.

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