Election Day times two in Indian Country

The Omaha Tribe of Nebraska has new 2020 leadership. (L-R) Treasurer Jazelle Miller, council member Carlton Edwards, Vice-Chairwoman Cheyenne Robinson, Chairman Everett Baxter Jr., Secretary Gwen Porter, council members Alan Harlan and Jerome Hamilton. (Photo courtesy of Omaha Tribe of Nebraska Facebook)

Election 2020

At least six tribes held tribal elections on Nov. 3.  #NativeVote20

Dalton Walker
Indian Country Today

At least six tribes across the country have new leadership, including one in Montana that elected a cast of female leaders.

They held tribal elections Nov. 3, the same day voters cast ballots in federal, state and local races.

In Arizona, the Gila River Indian Community considered axing an old law that disenrolls citizens who live off the reservation for long periods. The results of that vote could be known as soon as next week.

Here’s a closer look at tribal election outcomes. If we missed yours, let us know by emailing dwalker@indiancountrytoday.com.

Montana

On the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in southeastern Montana, Native women lead.

Native women swept the president, vice president and five tribal council seats in Tuesday’s election.

Donna Marie Fisher was elected president, and Serena Brady Wetherelt was elected vice president, according to unofficial results posted on the tribe’s website.

Melissa Rae Fisher, Gwen Talawyma, Norma Gourneau, Silver Little Eagle were elected to council, and incumbent Debra Waters Charette won her bid for reelection.

Once the new council members are sworn in, all but three will be women, according to KTVQ.com.

Nebraska

The Omaha Tribe of Nebraska also has new leadership.

A day after the tribe elected two new council members, Cheyenne Robinson and Jazelle Miller, a new chairman, vice chairwoman, treasurer and secretary were appointed in a swearing-in ceremony.

The council appointed Everett Baxter Jr. as chairman, Robinson as vice chairwoman, Miller as treasurer and Gwen Porter as secretary. Baxter, Porter, Carlton Edwards, Jerome Hamilton and Alan Harlan had already been serving on council.

“There is no greater honor to serve the people you love and care for,” Baxter told Indian Country Today in a statement. “Safety and general welfare of the people is our top priority through this pandemic. May Wakonda bless all life and give strength to those who need it during these hard times.”

Baxter follows in the footsteps of his mother, former Chairwoman Eleanor Baxter.

The Omaha tribe is in eastern Nebraska, along the Iowa border.

South Dakota

The Oglala Sioux Tribe elected a new president and vice president.

Former South Dakota lawmaker Kevin Killer, who served multiple terms in the state House and Senate, defeated incumbent President Julian Bear Runner. Alicia Mousseau beat Bryan Brewer, former Oglala Sioux Tribe president, in the vice presidential race.

Unofficial results were posted on the tribe’s Facebook page. Tuesday’s election also included 20 council seats.

The new leadership will be sworn in Dec. 4 for two-year terms, according to the Rapid City Journal.

The tribe is located in southwestern South Dakota.

In this photo from Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, Rep. Kevin Killer, D-Pine Ridge, attends Gov. Dennis Daugaard's State of the State address on the first day of the 2014 legislative session in Pierre, S.D. (AP Photo/Rapid City Journal, Chris Huber)
Kevin Killer (AP Photo/Rapid City Journal, Chris Huber, File)

Arizona

The Gila River Indian Community has reelected Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis, and former Lt. Gov. Monica Antone regained the seat, according to unofficial results.

Lewis defeated current Lt. Gov. Robert Stone, while Antone, a current council member, beat Carolyn Thompson in a close race for lieutenant governor. Both were elected to three-year terms.

Antone previously served in the role before a failed bid for governor in 2017.

For unofficial results, click here.

Governor Stephen Roe Lewis of the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona. (Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)
Governor Stephen Roe Lewis of the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona. (Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)

Also on the tribal elections ballot in Gila River were three constitution amendments, including one that would do away with a controversial rule that removes tribal citizens from enrollment if they remain away from the reservation continuously for 20 years.

With nearly 68 percent, voters approved a measure to remove the language, but it’s unclear if it was successful due to a requirement that 30 percent of registered voters participate in the election.

A tribal spokeswoman, June Shorthair, said official results could be known as soon as next week.

The language has been in the tribe’s constitution since 1936, though it has rarely been enforced.

The Gila River Indian Community Urban Members Association, a nonprofit based in Phoenix, has been working on change for years. Felicia Kaufman, secretary, said many citizens live off the reservation, in California and in the Arizona cities of Phoenix, Casa Grande and Tucson.

Although the tribe hasn’t been abiding by the rule, Kaufman said it’s important to take the language off the constitution.

Voters also approved a measure to remove the U.S. Interior secretary from the ordinance and resolution approval process.

Meanwhile, the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona elected five citizens to council on Tuesday.

Barbara May, John Bush, John Antonio Jr., Jonathan Kitcheyan and Eugene Nozie were elected to council, according to unofficial results posted by Chairman Terry Rambler on Facebook.

Bush, Antonio and Kitcheyan were reelected.

The tribe is located in eastern Arizona.

The Navajo Nation held a chapter general election on Tuesday.

Votes were cast for chapter presidents, vice presidents and other executive roles in dozens of races.

The Navajo Election Administration released unofficial results. To see the full list, click here.

The vast Navajo Nation is located in northeastern Arizona and parts of New Mexico and Utah.

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Dalton Walker, Red Lake Anishinaabe, is a national correspondent at Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter: @daltonwalker Walker is based in Phoenix and enjoys Arizona winters.

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