Last week, hopeful Democratic nominee Bernie Sanders released a 10-point policy platform directed toward “empowering tribal nations,” which is available on his campaign website.
And while in Flagstaff, Arizona, he discussed some of the issues his policy platform would address:
His Native American policy announcement begins by saying, “Native Americans are the first Americans, yet they have for far too long been treated as third class citizens.”
It goes on to list statistics familiar to anyone well-versed in Indian country, including graduation and poverty rates, suicide and sexual assault statistics and the fact that Native Americans are most likely to be killed by police, more than any other racial group.
Sanders’ plan to improve tribal nations’ standing and strength includes improved tribal jurisdiction, including the ability to prosecute non-Natives guilty of crimes on tribal lands, as well as improved housing, education and health care.
The plan also specifically mentions rebuilding treaty relationships, including protection of sacred spaces, ceremonies and tribal lands, as well as protecting voting rights and improving consultation between the federal government and tribal governments.
Furthermore, Sanders took a specific stand against “offensive school and sports mascots,” falling in line with comments made at Twin Arrows Casino last Thursday regarding the Washington NFL team.
Sanders has two Native American advisors: Nicole Willis, Umatilla, and Tara Houska, Ojibwe from Couchiching First Nation. Houska, a lawyer, largely contributed to the policy.
“This progressive platform stands as a testament to Bernie's commitment to the future of Indian country,” Houska sad. “Our votes and our voices matter.”
Sanders’ competition for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, has also published campaign promises specific to Indian country on her campaign website.
Culture Editor Simon Moya-Smith contributed to this report.