Montana Democratic Party Staffs Up For Energetic Native Vote Effort in 2018 Election

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Helena – The Montana Democratic Party has hired a team of Native Vote organizers as part of an energetic effort to engage Indian Country and elevate Native American voices and issues during the 2018 election. The Montana Democratic Party has a strong presence on each of Montana’s Indian reservations, and will make Native Vote efforts central to its organizing strategy during the 2018 election and beyond.

“Our 2018 Native Vote organizers are trailblazers in their own communities and have been strong advocates for the most pressing issues in Indian Country today,” said Nancy Keenan, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party.  “Elevating the voices of Native Americans across Montana in our political process is absolutely critical, which is why we’re proud to bring these leaders on board in our efforts to re-elect Senator Jon Tester so he can continue to fight for Indian Country in the Senate.”

The bios of some of the Native Vote organizers are below:

Cassie Powell (Blackfeet): Cassie Powell was born and raised in Babb on the Blackfeet Reservation. She graduated with a Bachelor of Environmental Science for Fish and Wildlife Biology from Salish Kootenai College in 2011 and also works for Blackfeet Fish and Wildlife as the Grizzly Bear/Human Conflict Prevention project lead.

Brook Hoyt (Blackfeet): Brook Hoyt, born and raised on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, graduated from Blackfeet Community College with an Associates degree in Liberal Arts and Criminal Justice in 2015. He dances and attends pow wows and is a Student Ambassador for the American Indian College Fund.

TaNeel Filesteel (Fort Belknap): TaNeel Filesteel, ‘Chiiwakaalachiish’ One Who Always Prays, represents the Aaniiih and Nakoda tribes of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation and Apsaalooke tribe of the Crow Nation. TaNeel is a student at Salish Kootenai College majoring in Tribal Governance and Administration and previously attended the Pennsylvania State University majoring in Political Science and Economics. As a result of her efforts and accomplishments throughout Indian Country, TaNeel was selected by the United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) organization for the Inaugural 25 Under 25 Youth Leadership Award.

Ramona Horn (Fort Belknap): A member of the Aaniiih Tribe and the Chickasaw Nation, Ramona Horn resides on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. She received her Business Education degree at MSU-Northern and is a former Upward Bound Director & Business Instructor (Aaniiih Nakoda College, Harlem & Dodson High Schools) who believes in empowering our youth and communities through education and encouragement.

Jade Sooktis (Northern Cheyenne): Jade Sooktis is Northern Cheyenne from the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, where she currently lives with her husband and children. She is hoping to make people aware of the importance of voting so it may benefit the generations yet to come.

Jourdan Hoops (Fort Peck): Jourdan Hoops-Lovan was raised in Harlem. She is currently the Vice-Chairman’s secretary for the Fort Peck Tribes. She is a proud mother and foster parent, and is also a sergeant in the Montana National Guard. Jourdan supports Senator Tester because of his record of fighting for veterans and natives, and is excited to help Senator Tester get reelected.

Lance Elliot FourStar (Fort Peck): Lance Elliot FourStar currently serves as the Chairman of the Fort Peck Assiniboine Council and has served as Chairman of the Wolf Point Community Organization, whose membership is constituted of enrolled members of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of Northeast Montana. Lance is actively involved in his traditional Assiniboine ways of life, a veteran of the United States Army, and leads the Red Bottom Clan of the Assiniboine Nation as the Hudesana Oshkade Flag Bearer. Lance began his involvement in politics as an intern for the late Senator John McCain while in high school and an internship for the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

Kris FourStar (Fort Peck): Kris FourStar is an Assiniboine (Nakoda) enrolled at the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.

Tyrel Fenner (CSKT): Tyrel Fenner is a descendant of the Blackfeet and Cree nations. He grew up along the Rocky Mountain Front and Hi-Line, but has lived on the Flathead Reservation for the past 4 years. He is currently a senior in the Hydrology Program at Salish Kootenai College where he serves as President of the Forestry and Natural Resources Club. Tyrel is a scientist by trade, but believes that all Native Americans should exercise their right to vote. He is passionate about helping and encouraging Native Americans to do so as he understands that their votes will have a great effect on creating U.S. policy that aligns with their traditional beliefs and values.

Dawna Jo Calf Looking (CSKT): Dawna Jo Calf Looking-Morigeau is an enrolled Blackfeet Tribal member but has lived in CSKT since 2001. She attended Salish Kootenai College and graduated with a bachelor’s degree and is now working on her Masters in Public Health Administration. A mother of 5 children, Dawna chose to work for the Montana Democratic Party this election cycle because she believes Tester is an advocate for not only Native Americans but all of Montana.

Tanya Schmockel (Rocky Boy): Tanya Schmockel, Eagle Lodge Door Keeper Woman, is an enrolled member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe of Rocky Boy where she lives with her two youngest children. Tanya currently works for the Chippewa Cree Tribe as a Compliance Officer and also runs a successful native woman owned trucking company.  Tanya is following in her mother’s footsteps of being an advocate for native people’s rights.

Other organizers include Carol Ahenakew (Blackfeet), Diane Charette (Crow), Cyrus “Sonny” Leider, Jr. (Crow), Kristi Old Coyote (Crow), Amy Murdock (Fort Belknap), Rebekah Jarvey (Rocky Boy), and Pamela Sooktis (Northern Cheyenne).

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