Four Directions and SD NDN PAC Host Three Native Rallies Across the State To Increase Voter Turn Out
MISSION, KYLE, AND RAPID CITY, SD – Four Directions Inc. and SD NDN PAC, two organizations dedicated to increasing American Indian voter turnout and participation in the political process hosted a series of three Native Vote rallies this past weekend on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, Pine Ridge Reservation, and in Rapid City. The non-partisan rallies were attended by over 600 enthusiastic voters, and featured appearances by a number of tribal, local state, and statewide candidates, including Senate candidate Rick Weiland.
Headlining the Native Vote rallies were by performances comedy sketch group the 1491s and musician and activist Frank Waln. Four Directions Inc. Executive Director, O.J. Semans said, “American Indian voters are a historically disenfranchised group and it is important that our voices are heard in the political process. Rallies like these help bring awareness and excitement about the power of the Indian vote.”
The American Indian population in South Dakota is the fastest growing demographic group in the state, and has swayed elections in the past, including Senator Tim Johnson’s race in 2002 and more recently the Rapid City Mayoral election. “We know the power of the Indian vote what we can do when we are united,” said SD NDN PAC Director and House Representative Kevin Killer. “We just have to get out and vote.”
The 1491s, a nationally recognized comedy sketch group was a big draw for rally attendees. Group member Dallas Goldtooth said, “It’s amazing that we can bring a message of empowerment to people through our humor.” He went on to say, “the people we elect are going to have a say on issues important to Indian people – issues like the KXL Pipeline.”
The rallies also featured Frank Waln, who was recently dubbed the new voice of Indian country at a concert where he opened for Willie Nelson and Neil Young in front of 7,000 people. “We as Natives have so much to offer, yet we’ve been pushed back for so many generations,” said Waln. “Through our voices, through voting we can make a better life for future generations.”
Senate Candidate Rick Weiland spoke at all three rallies, where he shared his trademark musical message with potential voters. All statewide candidates were invited to the Native Rally. Republican Mike Rounds was unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts, and Independent candidate Larry Pressler did not respond to the invitation.
Four Directions and SD NDN PAC are continuing to increase American Indian voter participation through voter registration, early vote campaigns, voter score cards, voter protection programs, and get out the vote activities.