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Meet our election night team

Indian Country Today's live election 2020 team talks about the show and what you can expect from our up-to-the-minute coverage on Election Night.
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Indian Country Today's editor Mark Trahant, deputy managing editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, reporter Aliyah Chavez will be joining us today to talk about our live Election Night 2020 show along with anchor and executive producer Patty Talahongva. This election, they will be bringing you up-to-the-minute information on more than 100 Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians running for both national and state offices on election night.

Some quotes from today's show

Mark Trahant:

"Early on we started to recognize that it was going to be remarkable. There were more women than men running for the first time, at least since I've been collecting data. And we knew that there was a really strong shot for the first Native American woman to be elected to congress. And when you think about the metrics of that, it's really incredible because the amount of men who'd run for Congress over the years, even Native American men, and to have no women ever was really extraordinary. So that was one historic aspect. And then just the level of participation across the board. It was really clear for an election that did not involve the presidency, that a lot of people were going to be really involved and out to vote in ways that they hadn't before. And indeed, when we looked at the results the turn out in a lot of areas was for an off cycle election, really extraordinary people were engaged in really strong ways."

"I think it's huge, if you look at the first Native woman who ran, Jeanne Givens in Idaho. That was 40 years ago and it really took all that time to keep pressing to get the first a Native woman actually elected. Ada Deer ran right after her a number of times both for Congress and for secretary of state in Wisconsin. And one of the things that happened with both of these women is then people started following them and building up political capital kind of as a result. So that legacy now includes folks like Paulette Jordan, who's running for United States Senate in Idaho, which is directly attributed to that first congressional race. And even before Winona LaDuke, LaDonna Harris ran for vice president of the United States with Barry Commoner in the citizens party. Which really was in a lot of ways the very first Bernie Sanders run. Barry Commoner was really aggressive and out there and early in that election cycle, there was a lot of opportunity for him to kind of engage in a big way. And it was also the upswing of Ronald Reagan. And so those two collided and the Commoner race never took off the way it should have at least in terms of consideration. But her candidacy was really important because it set the bar really high."

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye:

"This is predicted to be one of the most consequential elections of our lifetime. And also you have probably a historic number of young Native voters. The numbers are showing who is participating. A lot of mail-in ballot issues are going on right now including on the Navajo Nation. This is going to be a really exciting night to see how Indian Country is really pulling together and really using technology and social media to inform and educate themselves and educate their own communities. It’s really exciting to see when I'm just scrolling on my phone. I feel like every other post is something about the election or some sort of education about getting out there. And how this is very important, it's not only for the country, but for Native communities too."

"There’s Ponka-We Victors's again, she's running for the district for a sixth term. There's also Christina Haswood. She's Diné and she's 26 years old. She could be one of the youngest state legislatures there in Kansas. I got to stop by and talk to both of them with respect to social distancing and being safe at this time. It was just really interesting to hear from Christina and that in her district Haskell Indian University is there, but there's never been a Native state legislator. That's really what she's going for. She grew up there, she was raised there, she went to school in that community. She's running unopposed, so there's a really good chance she's going to win. Just to see her leadership and build on that. Also her combined experience with public health too. Cause a lot of I think what we're focusing on this election is whoever's leading the country and their state in their local communities who is going to tackle the coronavirus response this time around as well."

Aliyah Chavez:

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"This weekend I was actually able to go through every single Native candidate that we followed really for the last year and a half. I can tell you now that we're following 110 Native candidates running up and down the ballot from the United States Congress to state legislatures, and all the way down to city council races and some county commissioner races. Our entire team is going to be looking at every single one of those candidates. As we all know, election night might not involve calling races, but we will be actively watching all of those candidates. I can also tell you that 71 of the 110 candidates are running for state legislature positions. And I think what's really interesting is that in two states, South Dakota and Wyoming, there are actually districts where Natives are running against each other."

"A Native person trying to unseat a Democrat. I just really think that that's really interesting given that, you know, if a Native person is already filling a seat, it's not often that you see another Native person trying to unseat them. I think those two races will be really interesting, especially given that one's a Democrat, one's a Republican and we all can sort of tell that the country is divided by party this election cycle. So those races will be interesting to watch. And the other interesting tidbit is that there's an even split of Native candidates who are running as first time candidates for a seat, and those who are seeking reelection. So there's 55 candidates who are trying to keep their positions, run for reelection and 55 who are hoping to be elected for the first time. So overall up and down there's some really, really interesting races and I'm so excited for November 3rd. And every day after that, we get to figure out what the next two years and four years will look like."


Live news broadcast starting at 8 p.m. Mountain Standard at

(Look on our website for a list of stations airing the program.)

Patty Talahongva, Hopi, is executive producer of Indian Country Today. She is also the anchor of the weekday newscast. Follow her on Twitter: @WiteSpider.

Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter: @aliyahjchavez or email her at

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Diné, is the deputy managing editor for Indian Country Today based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter: @jourdanbb or email her at Bennett-Begaye’s Grey’s Anatomy obsession started while attending the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix. 

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