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ND sees flurry of campaigning among Native candidates

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Wednesday, April 24, 2024   

North Dakota's June 11 primary is inching closer and those running for legislative seats are trying to win over voters, including Native American candidates who are part of a movement energized by newly drawn political boundaries.

The organization North Dakota Native Vote said there are seven candidates with Indigenous roots seeking spots in the Legislature. Most are running in District 9, which was recently updated to reflect representation needs for two Native American tribes.

Natasha Gourd, a board member of North Dakota Native Vote, described them as a good mixture of candidates coming from both reservations in the area, with some running as Democrats and others as Republicans.

"We've seen an upturn in participation and just getting leadership development through Native candidates," Gourd observed.

The election wave comes after the state saw 10 Native candidates in legislative races two years ago. For her group, Gourd acknowledged the boost can be tricky because they cannot endorse everyone running. But she noted having greater assurances the areas will be represented by people from their community -- no matter if they have a different stance on certain issues -- is still a positive.

Gourd added trying to build on the momentum is also important for off-reservation districts.

"What they do at the state level, regardless of Native American people in North Dakota (being part of) federally recognized tribes, it does affect us," Gourd pointed out. "Most Natives in North Dakota do live off the reservation, so it does affect our populations."

Gourd stressed they need more Native voices at the state level speaking out about priorities within education, the housing crisis, energy issues and health care. She hopes the positive trends they're seeing inspire more civic participation among other racial and ethnic groups trying to get a seat at the policy table in North Dakota.

Disclosure: North Dakota Native Vote contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Housing/Homelessness, Livable Wages/Working Families, and Native American Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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