Support Native Leadership at Standing Rock
Sign the petition: Tell Standing Rock's second largest town to keep the mayor's promise and appoint Hoksila White Mountain to the city council.
I support Hoksila White Mountain’s circulation of this petition and rightful place on the McLaughlin City Council. My signature on this document signifies that I agree with Mr. White Mountain that Native American candidates must be treated fairly and equally in the second largest town at Standing Rock. The McLaughlin City Council should understand that supporters of justice around the world are watching. After City Hall unjustly hindered Mr. White Mountain’s mayoral candidacy, the new mayor must keep his promise to immediately appoint Mr. White Mountain to fill the vacant city council seat in his own ward.
Because of Mr. White Mountain’s treatment as a candidate for mayor, he rightfully contested the election in June — and the mayor subsequently publicly promised to appoint him to council. Because the mayor has refused to keep that promise, without explanation, I also support a lawsuit against the town if the council continues on this course.
Here is the factual timeline of events, assembled by the Lakota People’s Law Project, according to Mr. White Mountain:
- In late February, I, Hoksila White Mountain, submitted 28 signatures to the City of McLaughlin on my first petition to run for mayor, 10 more than required. Four days before the due date, the city informed me that 11 of my signatures were invalid. According to the City, I was one signature short of having a lawful petition to run for mayor, so I needed to start over again to obtain 18 valid signatures. The City told me I would have to gather the signatures myself instead of relying on allies to knock on doors. I did exactly as the city asked by the deadline.
- In the beginning of March, the City informed me that I was a valid candidate for mayor and that my name would be on the ballot.
- On April 30, I received an email from the city office stating that “two citizens” had informed City Hall that someone other than myself had amassed the signatures necessary for my petition to be legal. Because of these false accusations, the city canceled my candidacy for mayor.
- I vehemently protested. But I was given the impression that the April 30 verdict was the City’s final decision. It wasn’t until two weeks prior to the June election that my legal advisor, the director of the Lakota People’s Law Project, called City Hall and learned that the City had finally bent to pressure from my advocates and reversed its decision. My name was back on the ballot for mayor. But these actions by the City did not allow me adequate time to campaign. For one, the deadline to register new voters has already passed, so I was unable to recruit new voters.
- I lost the June 9 election for mayor, earning 13 fewer votes than the winner, Dave Wutzke. Immediately afterwards, I submitted a letter to the City formally contesting the election results. In my letter, I stated that due to my mistreatment by the City, I was unable to register voters and incapable of running an effective campaign. After that, I attended a city council meeting to explain my grievance. At the meeting, an ally recommended to the mayor that he appoint me to the McLaughlin City Council to represent my ward. Soon after, the mayor informed me that he would do so.
- For three consecutive city council meetings following this, I and a representative of the Lakota People’s Law Project appeared at city council meetings to provide Mayor Wutzke the opportunity to follow through on his pledge. Each time, a cordial exchange between me and Mr. Wutzke — in the presence of the entire city council — resulted in Mayor Wutzke committing publicly to meet with me, explain the protocols for council, and be appointed to the empty seat in my ward at the next city council meeting.
- Then, on Nov. 2, at the fourth consecutive council meeting I attended, the mayor simply refused to keep his promise, declaring he no longer intended to appoint me to anything. But numerous witnesses had already heard the mayor publicly pledge, multiple times, to appoint me to represent my ward.
- The Lakota People’s Law Project is currently in ongoing dialogue with the Campaign Legal Center in Washington, D.C. (the law firm which represented Standing Rock in suing North Dakota in 2018 over its voter ID suppression law), and the alliance is considering a lawsuit against McLaughlin under the Voting Rights Act. If the mayor keeps his promise, and appoints me to council, the alliance will cease any preparations for litigation.
I, the undersigned, support Hoksila White Mountain’s appointment to the McLaughlin City Council after he was unjustly denied the ability to run an effective campaign for mayor. I call upon the mayor to appoint Mr. White Mountain to the McLaughlin City Council to fill the vacant seat in his ward which he was publicly promised.