By Tilden Bird
On Thursday, April 14, the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Tribal Business Council voted to approve a resolution endorsing political candidates Chase Iron Eyes for Congress, Cesar Alvarez and Kenton Onstad for seats in the North Dakota House of Representatives, and Ruth Buffalo for North Dakota Insurance Commissioner.
Iron Eyes, Alvarez, and Onstad presented their campaign platforms to the TBC, explaining how their respective candidacies would benefit not only the MHA Nation, but the state of North Dakota.
Following the presentations, Chairman Mark Fox gave each of the councilmen an opportunity to speak to the three candidates. The individual councilmen affirmed their support of the three politicians, praising them for their accomplishments, and wishing them good luck.
“It’s nice to have our Native heritage represented, not only for our tribe and for the tribes of North Dakota, but for the state of North Dakota,” said Twin Buttes Councilman Cory Spotted Bear. “And thank you for your bravery and your willingness to do that and best of luck to you. You have my support.”
The vote passed 6-0-1. Chairman Mark Fox abstained from the vote due to his own beliefs regarding the role of tribal government.
“Governments don’t endorse particular candidates. They don’t offer contributions as governments,” said Chairman Fox. “I want that understood that I am abstaining because of a principle of my own and my belief in what a tribal government should be.”
Fox also clarified that he fully supports the candidates personally and would encourage people to vote for them.
“I’m very humbled and honored to receive the endorsement of my community and my tribal nation,” stated Buffalo upon hearing of the TBC’s endorsement. “I look forward to bringing our collective voices to this race and into state government. Macigiraac!”
”It was an honor today to officially receive the endorsement of the Three Affiliated Tribes Tribal Business Council – my home in which I’m a proud enrolled member of – and to also be joined by ND Congressional Candidate Chase Iron Eyes and Representative Kenton Onstad,” Alvarez stated on his official campaign Facebook page. “I was born and raised on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation and was instilled with the values of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara people – respect, hard work, diplomacy, education, holistic wellbeing, and caring for all in your community from all walks of life.”
“As a proud enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes and as a lifelong resident of District 4 – Western North Dakota – I will carry those values with me as I continue meeting with fellow District 4 residents across our region hearing from them directly on issues that matter to them and will carry those values with me as well, if elected, to the North Dakota State Capital,” Alvarez continued in his statement.
Iron Eyes was similarly honored to receive the TBC’s endorsement.
“An endorsement from the MHA Nation signifies a momentum in Indian Country and in North Dakota,” said Iron Eyes. “With MHA territory responsible for one-third of the Bakken play, it is imperative that all of North Dakota works together to plan for the next 100 years.”
“All aspects of our collective economy deserve to be valued,” continued Iron Eyes. “The MHA Nation at the center of tremendous opportunity for its people and the state of North Dakota recognizes the importance of supporting effective leadership not only in Chase Iron Eyes but its very own tribal members: Ruth Buffalo and Cesar Alvarez.”
In addition to an endorsement by the TBC, each candidate received a $5,000 campaign contribution.
Buffalo will be running as a Democrat in the election for North Dakota’s Insurance Commissioner. Alvarez and Onstad are also running for election as Democrats in the race for North Dakota’s District 4 House of Representatives.
Iron Eyes will run against incumbent Kevin Cramer, who has served as North Dakota State Congressman since 2013.