Prior to the election, Joe Biden (D) and Rep. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) created a Plan For Tribal Nations as well as an Agenda For The Indian American Community. Indigenous voters responded by making President-elect Biden the first Democrat to win Arizona since 1992, High Country News reported. Native Americans also helped with the Democratic victory in Wisconsin, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
As the nation continues to increase in ethnic and racial diversity across the states, people who identify as partly Indigenous increased 39 percent to 5.7 million people, from 2000 to 2018, according to USA Facts—more than double the 1.6 million who self-identified in 2000. This spike helped the Democratic party eke out a lead over incumbent President Donald Trump in Arizona specifically, where the difference in votes between the two candidates was less than 41,000 as of November 6, according to reports. As of 2019, Indigenous folks comprised only 5.3 percent of Arizona, but they appear to have thrown their political weight behind Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
Two days after Election Day, Navajo Times wrote that “Apache, Navajo and Coconino counties, the three that overlap the Navajo Nation, went solidly for Joe Biden, with 73,954 votes compared to just 2,010 for incumbent President Donald Trump—a 97 percent turnout for Biden compared to 51 percent statewide.”
“We did our job,” Steven Begay, chairman of the Apache County Democratic Party, told Navajo Times. “We turned Arizona blue. Now it’s up to the Eastern states to decide if we get another four years of this guy (Trump).”
Wisconsin’s Indigenous communities echoed Arizona’s, swinging the state blue with fewer than 21,000 votes—in which 82 percent of votes cast from Menominee County, which includes the Menominee Tribe’s reservation, went to Biden compared to 49 percent for Trump from the entire state—High Country News reported. And it wasn’t just Arizonans and Wisconsins who helped to turn their states blue. Native Americans created fissures in states that Biden lost, like the Blackfeet Nation, Fort Belknap Tribes, the Crow Tribe and Northern Cheyenne Tribe in Montana; and the Standing Rock Sioux, Cheyenne River Sioux, Oglala Sioux, Rosebud Sioux and Crow Creek tribes in South Dakota.
CNN commentator Van Jones tipped his hat to the community on national television when he shouted out a list of grassroots organizations who helped register voters who then helped to tip the election scales.
“Even though the Native American vote is that hidden number that makes a difference in critical elections, our vote often goes unrecognized by mainstream media,” Diné CARE executive director Carol Davis, whose organization was one that Jones name-dropped, told Indian-Coutnry Today. “It takes someone like Van Jones who has a greater awareness of the Black and brown movements to highlight our contributions. It is also important to recognize all of our partner organizations who we worked with throughout this election cycle—this work is not done by just two to three organizations, it requires efforts from everyone to make this type of impact.”
And when it came to commentary on social media, Native Americans and allies made their position and voting power known:
The First Americans of this country, including a large majority of Navajo voters, had a major impact in the outcome of the presidential election in several swing states – that needs to be recognized and acknowledged by all. pic.twitter.com/SEpys0nmAk
rn— Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez (@NNPrezNez) November 7, 2020
Before it gets lost in the shuffle, I think a shout out needs to go to the Navajo Nation who had 89% turnout in Arizona (76k people) with overwhelming Biden support.
rnY’all ain’t owe the US a damned thing. Thank you for saving us from ourselves.
rn— TJ Jarrett (@Mathilde1469) November 8, 2020
A Native American dances in the street along with other individuals in Albuquerque NM pic.twitter.com/LeN7m9Ig89
rn— Sharon Chischilly (@Schischillyy) November 8, 2020
Last night @CNN called Native voters “something else”.
rnIn an election largely driven by race, the media still fails to accurately cover voters of color.
rnFor Native Americans, we’re not even named. pic.twitter.com/h2Q5iRpWWa
rn— Rebecca Nagle (@rebeccanagle) November 4, 2020
Just wanna share that the potential for Arizona to flip toward blue is because of the strongholds of Tribal Nations that represent the state. I have not heard any news commentary stating that reality.
rn— Amanda R. Tachine, Ph.D. (@atachine) November 4, 2020
rn— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) November 6, 2020
This is why hiring Native journalists and having beats dedicated to Indigenous Affairs is important. In Arizona alone, 6% of the voting-age population is Native American. In New Mexico, it’s 11%. Native populations turn out to vote in tribal, state and national elections. https://t.co/Pp651w8NDx
rn— Shondiin Silversmith⁷ (@DiinSilversmith) November 5, 2020