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Political issues that affect Natives living in South Dakota

Ernestine Anunkasan Hupa

In South Dakota many of us Natives are keeping an eye on the Governor’s race as it has a direct impact on our well-being. When you have a governor who has made direct attacks against Native issues, it’s difficult to rest easy, wondering what her next move is going to be.

Governor Kristi Noem has not made many friends in Indian Country as she has taken it upon herself to reignite the old Indian Wars in South Dakota. She made direct attacks against the KXL Pipeline protestors, against the tribes who set up checkpoints during the pandemic and has taken on race relations by passing legislation against Critical Race Theory. She tried to use her connections to the White House to overturn longstanding tribal sovereignty policies.

She has lost on several fronts in her war on Indians battles, but if she is anything like the former narcissistic President Donald Trump, she will relentlessly continue to try to undermine tribal sovereignty and relegate race relations in South Dakota.

I imagine that many natives in South Dakota will be watching the governor’s race very closely.

The other issue on Natives Voters’ minds is most likely inflation. When you’ve already been struggling to get by with the limited resources you have available, increases in the prices of staples like bread, milk, eggs, cheese and especially meat products, can cause much anxiety. Gas prices are also outrageous adding a further burden on families struggling to survive.

Voters in the midterm elections are citing inflation as a determining factor in which way they are going to vote. Most people feel the need to blame someone, especially when it’s hitting this close to home. So of course they are putting the blame on the Biden Administration’s policies as the reason were faced with high prices. However this strikes me as curious because most intelligent people know that inflation is a direct result of the pandemic.

We were all in it. We all witnessed the empty shelves at grocery stores, we saw the backlog of trucks and ships in harbors who couldn’t get their products delivered. But still we want to put the blame somewhere and old Joe Biden is an easy target. Sad really.

So no matter how the elections turn out, we are still going to be faced with high prices. They aren’t going to magically disappear after today. But it could be a godsend in the long run if Republicans take control of both houses of Congress. I honestly believe that no matter who wins, inflation is going to continue to skyrocket. So two years from now, the public will be blaming the Republicans for the fallout from covid-19. They won’t say it that way, but it in the end that is what this inflation is, a fallout from the pandemic.

However in South Dakota, race relations is high on our priority list. People like Tim Giago worked toward reconciliation and wanted to equalize our status as citizens of a state that has not always been good to its Native people. It’s discouraging that we seem to be going back in time instead of forward with our current governor and state legislators.

Hopefully we will wake up to a better tomorrow, with the elections being over. If not, we must put on our thinking caps and find a way to make a better tomorrow for our children than what our current governor has planned. We can do this.

Cha Hecetu Ksto!

(Contact Ernestine Anunkasan Hupa at

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