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Senator Elect Heitkamp Owes Debt of Gratitude to Native American Voters in North Dakota

By “Scarlet Raven”

A razor thin margin separates Democrat Heidi Heitkamp and GOP Congressman Rick "Abortion is a Felony" Berg in a race for one of the last undecided Senate contests in the United States.  Heitkamp currently has a 2,994 vote lead out of 318,400 votes cast.  This 1% deficit could trigger a recount until Congressman Berg announced that he will concede to Heitkamp.  Heidi joins Tammy Baldwin (D) from Wisconsin, Elizabeth Warren (D) from Massachusetts as freshman to a United States Senate where 20 Senators are women, the highest number ever.

This was a hotly contested race and I wrote about this on October 22 and stated that “a strong Native American voter turn-out…could affect Senate Majority,” and this bears out in the numbers.  Heitkamp carried the counties on the Indian Reservations with 68% of the vote, garnering 8,505 votes to Berg’s 3,916 votes, a difference of 4,589.  This allowed Heidi to eek out a narrow 1% victory and make up a gap of 1,595 votes and win by 2,994 votes.  In the previous, I stated that Heitkamp would need to be within 2-3% points of the non Indian votes of an estimated 315,000 votes I forecasted (I was only off by 2,000), and that she could make up the gap in Indian Country, the race played out as I predicted and I am proud of the support Indian Country gave to Heidi in North Dakota.

In fact, Heitkamp’s two largest county wins were in Sioux County on the Standing Rock Reservation where Heitkamp won 83.9% of the vote and in Rolette County, home of the Turtle Mountain Reservation, where Heitkamp won 80.3% of the vote.  Contrast this with her home county of Ransom, where Heitkamp won 69% of the vote.  Standing Rock and Turtle Mountain supported Heitkamp in a greater percentage than the county where she was born and raised!

Senator elect Heitkamp owes a lot to her strong Native American team, she was the only candidate that hired Native Americans, including Prairie Rose and Three Affiliated Tribes, Diane Johnson.  This was an amazing opportunity for the Native Americans of North Dakota to show the Country how important their votes are and that congress should start listening to us and pushing forward with the passage of the Violence Against Women Act (WAWA), more funding for Indian Health Services, more funding for Housing, more funding for Education, and more funding to combat drug and alcohol abuse.  All of this will allow Native Americans an opportunity to succeed in this country and enjoy true self-determination.

Indian Country has played a part in several races in the past, including the 2002 U.S. Senate race between Senator Democratic Tim Johnson’s win over John Thune by 524 votes which was decided on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  Another high profile race was the 2006 U.S. Senate race in Montana where Jon Tester won 83% of the vote on the Blackfeet Reservation where Tester earned 2,042 votes to incumbent GOP Senator Conrad Burns earned 419 votes, a swing of 1,623 votes.  Overall on the Reservations, Tester garnered 17,000 votes and won 75% of the vote.  After the election Tester stated he owed the victory to the strong Native American support he received.

Congratulations Senator Heitkamp we hope you will take a seat on the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs and represent Indian Country well and do not forget us!

Theron “Scarlet Raven” Thompson is an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate (Dakota Sioux) of the Lake Traverse Reservation.  He publishes articles on Tribal Issues, Energy, Economic Development, Business, Gaming, and Marketing.  He can be reached at and his blog is

Fri Nov 09, 2012 at  9:49 AM PT: Diary updated with new information...

Originally posted to scarletraven on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 11:57 AM PST.

Also republished by Native American Netroots.

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