BISMARCK, ND — This weekend, The North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party State Policy Committee unanimously approved an application to form the Native American Caucus. Prairie Rose Seminole, Dr. Twyla Baker, and Rep. Ruth Buffalo brought the application and are organizing the caucus to build long term political engagement within Indigenous communities and with the Dem-NPL.
All three women are members of the Three Affiliated Tribes. The caucus group is currently more than 40 members who are working on developing a governing structure that includes representation from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Three Affiliated Tribes, and the Spirit Lake Nation as well as setting goals for future engagement. The meeting was held virtually Saturday because of COVID-19.
Rep. Ruth Buffalo represents District 27 in Fargo. She is originally from Mandaree and is the Dem-NPL’s DNC National Committeewoman. Buffalo said:
“This has been a long time coming. Diversity will only strengthen relationships across the state to address the issues that not only face our tribal communities, but our rural and urban populations. More native voices in the political landscape of North Dakota only deepens our understanding of one another, and there is value in knowing who our neighbors are and what impact public policy may have.”
Prairie Rose Seminole is a policy analyst at the Indigenous Environmental Network and program manager at Advance Native Political Leadership. She ran for House District 45 in 2010. Seminole said:
“We’re making a space within the Dem-NPL to house and nurture Native leadership in the state and to make introductions to the party and the platforms, but also to encourage our own leadership where Native North Dakotans can potentially run for office or be an organizer. There’s so much capacity in our community, but we need to build trust within the party.”
Dr. Tywla Baker is president of Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College. Baker said:
“This will be a learning experience for our communities and for the Dem-NPL. There are different practices and approaches to democratic participation, and we want to establish a practice of building leadership beyond voter engagement. In the long term, we want to nurture relationships for strategic, years-long efforts for structural victories that improve peoples’ lives and provide value in the political education needed for more relational governance in North Dakota and our tribal people.”