Politics & Activism



In today’s society, there have been many Native American activists fighting for their rights. There have also been many Native American politicians making breakthroughs in the government. One major organization that has been fighting for the Native American community is the American Indian Movement; one of the main leaders is Russell Means. Along with this movement there are individual activists and politicians fighting for Native American rights such as Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell and Tom Cole.
Ben Nighthorse Campbell
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Ben Nighthorse Campbell was the 3rd Native American to serve in the U.S. Senate. He was elected in 1993. This was the first time in over sixty years that a Native American was elected into Congress.

Before he was a U.S. Senator, he was a U.S. Representative. While serving in the House of Representatives, he changed the name of the Custer Battlefield Monument in Montana to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, to honor the American Indians who died in battle.

While he was in the Senate, Campbell belonged to four essential Senate committees. These committees include Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Energy and Natural Resources, and Historic Preservation and Recreation. In the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator Campbell served as a Chairman of the Subcommittee on Parks. He was also a member of the Subcommittee on Forests and Public Lands Management which is a subcommittee of Historic Preservation and Recreation. Senator Campbell also served on the Indian Affairs and Veterans Affairs committees.

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Senator Campbell initiated and passed legislation to create the National Museum of the American Indian within the Smithsonian Institution.

He was also a leader in the development of preventive treatment programs to fight Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.


In 1995, Senator Campbell was appointed to the Helsinki Commission.

In 2004, Senator Campbell announced that he would not run for a third term in the U.S. Senate, instead, he was interested in running for Governor of Colorado. In 2006, he announced that he was not going to run for Governor


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Russell Means
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Russell Means is a Lakota and is best known for being a contemporary Native American activist. He is an Oglala Sioux who was born on the Pine Ridge Reservation. He joined the American Indian Movement(AIM) in 1968. After showing his amazing leadership skills he was given the role as national director in 1970. He continued to show his great leadership at many protests that AIM held such as: the take over of Mount Rushmore, takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the occupation of Wounded Knee which AIM is best known for.
Means tried out his leadership in 1974 when he ran for president of his Oglala Sioux tribe against Dick Wilson. He lost by about two hundred votes and charged that Wilson used intimidation in order to win. The federal court agreed to have a re-trial, however, Wilson refused to follow the ruling and the federal court refused to enforce the ruling. In the eighties AIM broke up into small groups and Bellecourt brothers stated that Means had publicly resigned from AIM. In 2004 Mean’s official website stated that he was a board member of AIM through the Colorado division.

Means has supported many libertarian political issues which causes controversy with many AIM members. For example, in 1986 he traveled to Nicaragua to support the Miskto Indians who worked with the guerillas against the Nicaraguan government. Means ran for president of the Libertarian Party but eventually lost to Ron Paul.

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He then went on to try to run for Governor of New Mexico “but was never put on the ballot because of procedural problems.” (Citation wiki). He decided to run for president of the Oglala Sioux tribe once again only this time he had the help of Twila Lebeaux. He unfortunately lost again but this time it was by a small percent. He still continues to make a huge impact in gaining the rights that Native Americans deserve.


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Tom Cole



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Tom Cole is the only registered Native American in Congress today and is a member of the Chickasaw Nation. On November 6, 2002 he became the Representative for Oklahoma’s Fourth Congressional District.

He is a defender of the interests of small business and tax payers. He is also for a strong national defense, and he is a leader who deals with issues concerning Native Americans and tribal governments.

Serving on the Armed Services Committee and the Natural Resources Committee, Tom Cole is also a Deputy Minority Whip.

Tom Cole co-founded CHS & Associates, and is a past president. CHS & Associates is based in Oklahoma, and is a consulting and survey research firm.

Served as:
- A District Director for former Congressman Mickey Edwards
- Oklahoma’s Secretary of State
- Former Governor Frank Keating’s chief legislative strategist
- Liaison to the state’s federal delegation.
- Representative for Oklahoma’s Fourth Congressional District

He has a Bachelors degree from Grinnell College, a Masters from Yale University, and a Ph. D. from the University of Oklahoma. Cole was a former professor in college in history and politics.

The National Congress of American Indians awarded him the Congressional Leadership award. In 2004 Tom Cole was inducted into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame.


Works Cited http://www.cole.house.gov/biography.html</span> Harlan, Bill. "Russell Means with Cindy Sheehan." Rapid City Journal. 30 Aug 2005. 1 May 2008. www.rapidcityjournal.com/ politicalblog/?p=806 "Police Arrest 83 Protesters at Denver Columbus Day Parade" Foxnews.com. 7 Oct. 2007. 1 May 2008. <www.foxnews.com/story/ 0,2933,299959,00.html> "Russell Means." Wikipedia. 2008. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. 1 May 2008.