NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – New Mexicans are speaking out after CNN is accused of being racist toward Native Americans for labeling them as “something else” in a poll about the race for president.

Mescalero Apache Tribal President Gabe Aguilar said he considers the “something else” labels to be an insult.

“I don’t want to be something else. I want to be Native American,” he explained.

The CNN exit poll from Tuesday night labels six percent of the voting population for the presidential race as “something else.”

Aguilar said it’s hurtful that the graphic doesn’t recognize indigenous and Native Americans, like on his reservation that has 5,200 tribal members and is growing. He said they had record-breaking voter turnout this year.

New Mexico has the third highest Native American population in the country at nearly 11%, trailing Alaska and Oklahoma.

This controversy also comes at a time when a record-breaking six Native Americans nationwide were elected to Congress this week. New Mexicans just elected two Native American house Reps. Deb Haaland and Yvette Herrell.

It’s one reason local cartoonist Ricardo Cate, a proud Native American, has made several cartoons and a shirt mocking CNN’s graphic.

“There’s really nothing positive about lumping us into the six percentile, but you know, in these dire times, I choose humor,” Cate said.

State Rep. Deb Haaland sent the following statement Friday:

Native voters for years have been counted out of the democratic process. The national polls labeling Native Americans as ‘Something Else’ is just another reminder of the work we have to do to combat invisibility. Here are the facts: Native Americans have a powerful voice and when we vote we influence elections. Right now we’re seeing that voice have an impact in states like Arizona, New Mexico, Michigan, and Wisconsin which went blue this election. Our voice matters and it’s here to stay.

In a statement this week, the Native American Journalists Association demanded CNN issue a public apology. The news organization has not commented.

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