By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
The Northern Arapaho Tribe’s top governing official on Thursday endorsed U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney for re-election to the U.S. House, but he’ll have to change his voter status from unaffiliated to vote for her himself.
Jordan Dresser, chairman of the Northern Arapaho Business Council, touted Cheney in a Facebook video posted Thursday, pointing to her efforts to secure additional funding and regulatory exemptions for American Indian tribes.
“Liz Cheney has been an ally to Indian Country, and she’s been a great ally to the Northern Arapaho Tribe,” Dresser said in the video. “She takes the problems and the issues we have on a national level, so we can find solutions, and she’s helped us tremendously in the last couple years in getting key things moved for us. Join me in voting for Liz Cheney on Aug. 16.”
The Northern Arapaho Business Council (NABC) is the tribe’s six-member governing panel. It has both executive and legislative power.
Cheney is seeking her fourth term as Wyoming’s lone U.S. representative. She faces four other candidates in the Aug. 16 Republican primary for the office.
Multiple commenters and reactionaries on the post challenged Dresser’s statement that Cheney has been instrumental in advancing Northern Arapaho interests.
“I would like to see receipts on what Liz Cheney has helped Indian country with?” Aaron Ferris, a commenter who lives on the Wind River Indian Reservation, wrote on his Facebook page.
Cheney has signed onto multiple efforts aimed at helping American Indian Tribes garner extra funding or less regulatory oversight, but these efforts are still in legislative limbo.
For example, in 2019 Cheney co-sponsored H.R. 779, which has not yet passed either chamber of Congress. The bill aims to exempt Indian tribes on tribal lands from restrictions under National Labor Relations Act, which bars unfair labor practices and promises employees the right to form unions and take collective action.
That year she also cosponsored H.R. 4586, which, if it passes, would require the U.S. Department of Education to give additional money to tribes for private tutoring, other programs and educational supplies for students in tribal and federally-run schools.
In 2020 Cheney spoke in favor of H.R. 895, which, if it clears the Senate, would allow tribally-controlled grant schools to participate in the Federal Employee Health Benefits program. That year she also sent a letter to the Secretaries of the U.S. Treasury and Interior Department asking them to consider the Wind River Indian Reservation when distributing CARES Act money to tribes.
Last year, Cheney cosponsored House Resolution 368, aiming to make May 5 the “National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and girls.”
She then cosponsored H.R. 4348, which, if it passes, would give more money to tribal family programs like the Northern Arapaho Department of Family Services, which receives Wyoming state funds as well.
She co-sponsored H.R. 5735 in October 2021, which, if approved, would open certain tribal, state, and local COVID-19 funding streams to be used for infrastructure projects and natural disaster recovery.
The bill also would give Indian tribes an extra year to use their COVID-19 funding.
And this April, Cheney cosponsored H.R. 7455. If approved, it would make federal monetary reimbursement criteria for tribal contracts more inclusive.
Aug. 16 is the primary election, when Wyoming’s two major political parties of Republican and Democratic will, through separate ballots, select their preferred candidates for the Nov. 8 general election.
However, because Cheney has an adversarial relationship to former President Donald Trump, some Democrats are expected to switch their parties on paper, to sway the Republican primary in Cheney’s favor, Cowboy State Daily reported on June 19.
One of Cheney’s opponents, Harriet Hageman, has Trump’s endorsement in the race.
In Dresser’s case, he’ll have to cross not from Democratic, but from unaffiliated to vote for Cheney.
Dresser voted in 2016, 2018 and 2020, and was not affiliated with either of the major parties in each of those elections.
In 2014, however, Dresser voted as a Democrat.
The tribal chairman still was unaffiliated as of Friday.
Dresser did not respond Friday morning to a text message requesting additional comment.
Tribal spokesman Matthew Benson said Dresser’s endorsement was in his “personal capacity” and not an endorsement by the entire council.
Tribal Member Snub
Dresser isn’t the first Northern Arapaho political leader to endorse Cheney.
Lee Spoonhunter, an NABC member and former chairman, made headlines on June 6, for endorsing Cheney over his fellow tribal member Lynnette Grey Bull, who is vying for the Democratic nomination in the primary election against Meghan Jensen of Rock Springs and Steve Helling of Casper.
Grey Bull told Cowboy State Daily last month that tribal members’ endorsements won’t be predictable because, like any other group of people, the tribe is made up of diverse and unique individuals.