Who Is Faith Spotted Eagle?

The Native American tribal leader received a vote in the Electoral College. 

Getty Images / Chip Somodevilla

Pipe dreams that faithless electors in the Electoral College would somehow prevent Donald Trump from becoming the president ended up being just that, pipe dreams, on Monday. However, there were quite a few faithless electors during Monday’s long-awaited Electoral College vote. Some chose for Colin Powell, another voted for Ron Paul, but one Washington elector’s vote was puzzling, to some: Faith Spotted Eagle.

First things first: Spotted Eagle is a person, not an actual bird, as some have remarked. Spotted Eagle wasn’t an outrageous protest vote, but an intentional one. She’s a 65-year-old Native American who lives on the Ihanktonwan Dakota Territory in South Dakota. Spotted Eagle is a major activist, and one of the key people behind the movement against the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. For decades, she has also championed against environmental injustice and sexual violence within and towards the indigenous peoples of America.

Four Washington state electors broke ranks with the voters of their states and cast their ballot for another candidate. All of them were pledged to Hillary Clinton, but three voted for Colin Powell instead as a form of protest against her candidate and the Electoral College itself.

The fourth, Robert Satiacum Jr., voted for Spotted Eagle. Satiacum, a member of Washington’s Puyallup Tribe, had already pledged that he would not be voting for Clinton before the election, back when it looked like she would probably win in part due to her environmental policies, which he said were “crimes against our mother, this Earth.”

Satiacum and his fellow faithless electors face a $1,000 fine under Washington state law.

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