‘Your life depends on it’: Federal elections could diminish tribal sovereignty

Nora Mabie

BILLINGS — “Tribes are sovereign, so why vote?”

It’s a common refrain across Indian Country, where tribal council elections — not federal elections — dominate.

Chad BadBear, a student at Little Big Horn College in Crow Agency, said he doesn’t know who’s running in the federal election this year.

Students and faculty at Stone Child College on the Rocky Boy Reservation talk about the upcoming November midterms, voter engagement on the reservation and how state elections are perceived throughout their community.

ANTONIO IBARRA, Missoulian

“I want to know how it works,” he said. “But it’s all so complicated.”

Kiara Small, a student at Stone Child College in Rocky Boy, said, “I don’t pay attention to government.”

When asked why his peers aren’t politically active, Austin Valencia, a 26-year-old student at Stone Child, hit the nail on the head.

“It’s more or less a sovereign nation kind of thing,” he said. “That’s why I believe most of us don’t really try to look at state things. … It’s because we live on the reservation, where it’s a whole different thing.”

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