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John Nichols: Every Native vote counts

John Nichols: Every Native vote counts

Every Native Vote Counts

The constant white nationalist and white supremacist dog whistling of Donald Trump and his political allies has infused the 2020 campaign with cruel and dangerous ignorance.

This year’s Indigenous Peoples Day — which we mark on Oct. 12 — provides a valuable and necessary opportunity to correct the record.

When Gov. Tony Evers issued his groundbreaking executive order declaring Indigenous Peoples Day in Wisconsin last year, he recognized “the historical, cultural and contemporary significance of the Indigenous peoples of this region, without whom the building of its states and its cities would not have been possible.”

The Native nations of Wisconsin represent our first peoples. The rest of us — whether we trace our roots to the 1820s, as my family does, or whether we’re arriving in the 2020s — have a duty to recognize that Evers was right when he declared, “Wisconsin would not be all that it is without Indigenous people.”

If we are honest about our history, we can be honest about our future. This honesty should tell us that we all need one another to build a just and equitable country. This is one of the many reasons to be enthusiastic about the work being done this year by Dee Sweet and the Wisconsin Native Vote project, which is supported by Wisconsin Conservation Voices, and about the grassroots organizing being done by groups such as Menikanaehkem,  which is working with members of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin to boost voter turnout.

The national Native Vote campaign reminds us that, in battleground states such as Wisconsin, "with the heightened political participation of Native people, Indian Country has become an increasingly powerful voting bloc. In recent years, the Native vote has been publicly acknowledged as making a pivotal difference in national, state, and local elections.”

That’s going to be especially true in 2020, when the nonpartisan campaign initiated by the National Congress of American Indians reminds us that “Every Native Vote Counts.” 

John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital Times. jnichols@madison.com and @NicholsUprising. 

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