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The evolving politics of Ben Nighthorse Campbell

Mary Annette Pember talks to US Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell's  about his evolving political career and Dalton Walker tells us about ballot lawsuits sweeping Indian County

Ben Nighthorse Campbell served two terms as a US Senator, representing Colorado from 1993 to 2005. National correspondent Mary Annette Pember joins us to go over the Northern Cheyenne Senator's career.

Plus national correspondent Dalton Walker joins us on the show to tell us what he's uncovered in the Navajo ballot lawsuit.

Here are some quotes from today's show.

Mary Annette Pember:

His switch to the Republican party and this sort of ensuing conservative views were a little bit surprising. In some ways he reflected, kind of, what we think of as a traditional kind of old style Republican conservative versus what we're seeing more today. He talked about tribal sovereignty ultimately existing without any help from the federal government. And one wonders how that would work while still ensuring that the federal government meets its trust responsibility with Native people. I really wish I would have actually talked a little bit more with him about that, how he would see something like that playing out.

And then also, keeping with this change to the Republican party. I mean many of his views did align, I think, with some of the aspects of what we see today. For instance, the stance on immigration. I was a little bit surprised to learn that he was very supportive of the current rather hard stance of the Trump administration on immigrants coming from Mexico and incarceration and various things. He expressed concern that some of the immigrants were not quote unquote, the right people coming into the U S and, and also said something that I thought was very noteworthy. Not everybody is not always equal. We like to think everybody is equal, but in terms of who can help the nation succeed, there's a big difference between say a doctor and somebody who's living on the street or begging for a living, end quote. And that was at least for me, a rather surprising thing to hear from Senator Nighthorse Campbell.

The other thing that I was a little bit surprised about was that he really spoke with great concern about groups of people he defined as Antifa. Which I think we've pretty much learned that they aren't an organized group, if you will. They are people who may simply embrace some of those tenants and philosophies. He was very concerned about the violence relating to some of the demonstrations that we've seen in various cities that I think really stemmed from the enact racial inequities that we have in our country. And he seemed to really buy into that it was really some sort of a danger to the country’s stability. Which I thought was rather interesting versus questioning perhaps some people who are much farther right and some of their motivations

Dalton Walker:

We've been following this court case for a few weeks. Six Navajo nation citizens filed a lawsuit against the state of Arizona. Regarding the coming election and asking for an extra 10 days after election day, November 3rd, for their ballots to count. Partially because of how big the reservation is and how difficult it can be for mail in ballots, or mail in general, to go to point a to point B. Earlier this month, a judge ruled against them. The most recent action happened this week. A three judge panel heard arguments and is considering whether to give an extra 10 days in an appeals court. That decision really could come any time. It's unclear if they would rule on the request before the November 3rd election. The neat thing about the appeals court hearing this week was that it was live stream.

So I actually had a chance to sit and watch and listen to kind of hear the back and forth and the questions by the judges and then the answers by the plaintiff’s attorney and then by the state. It was just kind of interesting to be there, to see it in person. The panel asked about how an extension would work. How such ballots would be distinguished for counting from those other voters. An attorney for the state raised the possibility that other Native people in Arizona could earnestly believe such an extension would apply to them. The lawsuit sought the extension for only Navajo nation citizens who live on the reservation.The state provided a statement, basically saying, they understand and recognize the unique circumstances addressed by the plaintiffs. But what they're asking for would be difficult to implement this close to an election. And bigger picture is that Arizona is a key state. For the national side, you have a key US Senate race and the presidential race are both tossups right now. And of course the local and state races are equally as important and Native people in the Navajo nation are fighting right now to make sure their vote is counted.

Yeah, and like you mentioned in Montana, there was news. Even as this ruling could literally happen today, or could happen anytime. I know the plaintiffs are hoping before election day because that's the key point here. And there's another one that popped up down in Southern Arizona the other day with the Pascua Yaqui tribe suing. They’re hoping the county reopens the only in-person early voting site on the reservation which was shutdown a few years ago. So that's something else we're monitoring regarding the election season legal wise. And as I mentioned earlier, Arizona is a key player in other lawsuits filed recently, and was asking for an extension in voter registration, across the state for everybody. A judge initially ruled yes from October 15th to October 23rd. But then, in a discussion with the state and the plaintiffs. They settled on a date October 15th, but that's still 10 more days than the original deadline and the Associated Press reported earlier this week that Arizona has recorded more than 28,000 new registrations since that initial deadline was passed. So a lot of important issues happening in election season.

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

Also on today's show:

Mary Annette Pember, citizen of the Red Cliff Ojibwe tribe, is national correspondent for Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @mapember. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Pember loves film, books and jingle dress dancing.

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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