Tribal leaders endorsed two Democrat candidates in the upcoming General Election.
Attorney General candidate Raph Graybill, (D – Great Falls) received an official endorsement from the Fort Peck Tribes after a conference call with the Tribal Executive Board. The action was approved at the August 24, 2020 full board meeting.
The Tribes also endorsed Montana Governor Steve Bullock for Senate. Bullock is a two-term Governor and he is running against incumbent candidate Republican Steve Daines (R-Bozeman).
According to minutes from the August 17, 2020 Constitutional Reform Committee, Graybill said he believes it’s important to keep communication between the Tribes and State of Montana. Graybill has met with every tribal government in Montana to court Indian voters, he said.
Next to the Governor, the Attorney General is the second most powerful elected office in the State of Montana. The position could be thought of as the “lawyer for Montana,” he said.
Right now, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is the main issue because it affects everyone. A tremendous amount of responsibility falls on regional governments like the Tribes to curb escalation of growing COVID-19 infections, Graybill said.
Other issues were discussed but the minutes are very vague without any details. This includes talks on reforming law enforcement, cross-deputization, and the Keystone XL pipeline.
Another important issue discussed but not detailed in the official committee minutes is a Republican led lawsuit against Montana health care, tribal documents state.
Graybill, currently serves as Legal Counsel for Governor Steve Bullock, attended Ivy League colleges in the east. graduating from Columbia University, and then went onto earn a law degree from Yale Law School. He also worked as a police officer with the New York Police Department while in college, according to Graybill’s biography on his campaign page.
As an attorney, Graybill worked for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and in private practice as a lawyer for entrepreneurs and small businesses harmed by unfair business practices, according to his bio.
Graybill recently spoke with the TEB on a conference call. As an AG candidate, keeping in communication with the Tribes is important
His campaign website lists the Fort Peck Tribes as being the only Montana Indian tribe to publicly endorse his candidacy. He is the only Attorney General candidate to receive an endorsement from a Montana Indian tribe.
After the discussion on the matter, no further action was taken until the Economic Development committee, according to committee minutes.
At the full board, the council approved endorsing candidate Bullock for Senate based on the values he shares with Montana tribes. Bullock was also endorsed based on the need for health care protection in Indian country.
There were no details listed in the minutes as to what led to this discussion, but the motion came forward, “to recognize the importance of supporting Indian political candidates that value, understand and include the health and welfare of our people, and consistent with the foregoing authorities, hereby endorses Steve Bullock for United States Senate.”
Both motions passed at the full board meeting with no opposition.
Bullock personally met with the Tribes to address the COVID-19 pandemic, and he has been consistent in his promises to work with Montana Indian tribes as tribal nations.
“Governor Bullock has always been a strong partner and friend of the Fort Peck tribal community, and of Native Montanans across the state,” said Chairman Floyd Azure in the Char-Koosta News. “With Governor Bullock in Washington, we’ll never have to worry whether Native Montanans will have a seat at the table on issues that affect us. The Tribal Executive Board of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Nations is proud to endorse Governor Bullock.”
In related news, the Tribes went on record to have tribal attorneys write a letter of support to set up satellite polling places in reservation communities and have the letter sent to Valley, Roosevelt, Sheridan and Daniels Counties.
The Fort Peck Reservation expands two million acres and takes up a large portion of Roosevelt County. It also stretches into Valley, Sheridan, and Daniels Counties. In Roosevelt, remote polling places will be set up in Fort Kipp, Brockton, Poplar, Wolf Point. Valley County is home to Oswego, Frazer, Glasgow.