Another election year, another Little Shell celebration seeing what seems to take place every two years; the presence of awkwardly toe stomping political candidates asking for our votes. If you were enjoying that roasted corn, cold lemonade or other powwow indigifare you may have seen them. First up was George Sinner who is a candidate for United States Congress. Sinner isn’t new to North Dakota politics. George is the second oldest of ten children of the George Sinner Sr., who served as ND governor from 1985 to 1992. After 35 years as a small town banker, from Casselton ND, George Jr., ran for a Senate seat in the state legislature, in which he was elected in 2012. As a banker, George Jr. helped small business grow, farmers to continue their industry, and young families buy their first home. George cares about people, and that’s why he decided to run for the sole Congressional seat in the United States House of Representatives.
As George addressed the Little Shell Celebration on Friday, he spoke of how important the Native Vote is. In not so many words, he did his best to lift up the role we have played in electing leaders who make decisions at the federal level that affect tribal governance.
Speaking to local voters on the east side of the arbor, Mr. Sinner acknowledged how our local history is rooted within our MHA cultures. He supports increased funding for tribal education, improving our criminal justice system, and access to quality, affordable housing in western North Dakota. Furthermore, measures to improve the Violence Against Women’s act to ensure better prevention efforts and victim support. George speaks highly of those who serve and have served our country, and the need to increase non-VA facilities for our Native veterans is a priority for him. As we shared food and laughed over a fire, local voters got to meet this candidate who is relatively new to our part of the state. George may not have his side step down, but his presence alone at our celebration appeals to our better angels, to think about putting a Sinner in the United States House of Representatives.
Strengthening his Hidatsa language skills Taylor made his rounds of the arena visiting with voters. The emcee introduced him as the “tall guy with the white hat” and Taylor greeted us with his best Norwegian. Taylor, a better dancer than your typical cowboy, is a former state senator and is the Democratic Non-Partisan League (Dem-NPL) candidate for North Dakota Agricultural Commissioner. Taylor is a fourth generation rancher who authentically permeates the values of family, community and hard work. He meets you with a smile and a handshake and sometimes a greeting in our own language! He’ll even leave a room with a heavily Norwegian-accented “maacigiraac”. Never without his boots and hat, Mr. Taylor truly embodies the North Dakota neighborly spirit that drives him to serve his people. For years as a state senator, Mr. Taylor championed language and cultural initiatives, and increased funding for higher education that includes our tribal colleges. Similar to his run for governor in 2012, Ryan speaks to the opportunity out here in the west and how working together will result in the best way to handle the growth. Taylor points out that North Dakota Native communities have taken a priority during his legislative career and would continue to do so as Agricultural Commissioner. Our voices have been counted amongst Mr. Taylor’s closest advisors when working with issues affecting Indian country.
The office of Agricultural Commissioner has more power than you can imagine. ND has a legislature that meets every two years, so our government has allowed the Agricultural Commissioner along with two other members, the oversight of permitting and other issues critical to the oil industry. Something we voters at the MHA Nation need to pay attention to. Agriculture and Oil play the biggest roles in our local economy and our votes will matter in this race. A vote for Agricultural Commissioner is a vote for our economy. As a candidate, Taylor has said “We want the oil, but we also want productive land when it’s all done.” Taylor has promised to look at his role if elected as Agricultural Commissioner with a critical eye.
Another Little Shell celebration passed, another dance with political candidates. Who will appeal to your better angels? Who is currently, actively courting our votes? A cowboy as Agricultural Commissioner, and a Sinner for the House of Representatives.