According to this report in the Bismarck Tribune, the North Dakota Democratic Party will be holding a rally in Bismarck on Sunday coordinated with the Lakota People’s Law Project (the Renewable Energy Caucus mentioned is, per the FEC, affiliated officially with the Democratic Party).
The LPLP is a group which was and still is heavily invested in supporting and defending the violent #NoDAPL protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. In fact, the group’s lead counsel is none other than convicted felon Chase Iron Eyes.
Iron Eyes, you readers will remember, was the North Dakota Democratic Party’s candidate for the U.S. House in the 2016 election cycle. He was also, once his House campaign ended in defeat, a vigorous participant in the #NoDAPL protests earning himself a felony charge for inciting a riot for which he’s currently still on trial.
The LPLP is providing for Iron Eyes’ legal defense, and they’re also working with the North Dakota Democratic Party on “sustainability, food security, sovereignty and economic prosperity,” as the Tribune reports.
Iron Eyes will be speaking at the rally. Democratic Public Service Commission candidates Casey Buchmann and Jean Brandt are scheduled to attend as well per other reports.
This is an odd political choice for Democrats coming as it does in the middle of an election year in which their top candidate, Senator Heidi Heitkamp, has worked hard to distance herself from her left-wing base and, instead, align with Trump voters.
Of course, the other side of that coin is that Heitkamp has clearly lost support in Indian country, thanks to this posturing, despite voters there being key to her 2012 election victory. Perhaps this rally is intended as a sort of low-key olive branch from Democrats who would still like the reservation vote to turn out on election day?
It’s an odd move. While a group like the LPLP, what with their support for the pipeline protests and their efforts to turn Iron Eyes into some new iteration of Leonard Peltier, might appeal to the left-wing Democratic base, that base is a tiny fraction of the overall North Dakota electorate.
The bigger risk, I think, is in alienating voters who saw the #NoDAPL protests, rightly, as a violent mob of extremists who terrorized south central North Dakota for months on end.