Bernie Sanders’ rally in Phoenix felt like an Indian market with the scores of Native people lining up and carrying their signs.
Before the Democratic presidential candidate took the stage for his rally last night, young women from the Tohono O’odham Nation danced and a Havasupai elder gave a prayer. Other Natives took selfies while waiting for the rally to start in the Arizona Veteran’s Coliseum.
“Let me thank the Red Mountain Dancers for performing tonight,” Sanders said in the beginning of his remarks. “And let me thank everyone else for coming in what is the most important and consequential election in the modern history of our country.”
In his first rally since Super Tuesday, Sanders spoke to a crowd of supporters at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the same venue where President Donald J. Trump spoke to supporters last month.
Sanders also thanked Dianna Uqualla, Havasupai tribal healer and leader from Supai Village located near the Grand Canyon.
Earlier this week, Sanders also held a rally in St. Paul, Minnesota, attended by White Earth Band of Ojibwe leadership. The tribal nation officially endorsed the Vermont senator the next day.
Wenona Benally Baldenegro, Navajo, is one of six co-chairs in Arizona for the Sanders campaign.
“Bernie is a huge supporter of Medicare for all and this would be incredibly beneficial for Indian tribes,” Baldenegro said. “It could possibly be the first time in the history of this country that we will have fully funded healthcare for Indian tribes.”
“Every year our leadership goes to Washington to ask that IHS be fully funded and Medicare for all would get us there,” Baldenegro said.
Previously Baldenegro served as an Arizona state representative where she served nine of Arizona’s 22 tribal nations. She holds a law and public policy degree from Harvard University.
Moving forward, it could take weeks — or months — for the Democratic party to pick a candidate to face Trump in the November general election. The ultimate nominee must claim 1,991 delegates, which is a majority of the 3,979 pledged delegates available this primary season.
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