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Hours before the Julián Castro takes the stage at the Frank LaMere Presidential Forum, Indian Country Today learned his campaign has four new endorsements from Native leaders.

Meskwaki citizen Christina Blackcloud, Red Dawn Foster who is Oglala Lakota and Diné, Fort Peck Assiniboine Sioux citizen Jennifer K. Falcon, and Arlando Teller who is Diné have endorsed the former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Castro’s campaign has also announced they have qualified for the third round of Democratic debates after receiving 130,000 unique contributions and polled at two percent in four polls.

“Naat’áanii is the Navajo word for leader,” says Teller, who is an Arizona representative. “And a leader advocates, promotes, protects and uplifts his community. Julián Castro is the Naat’áanii for the United States of America.”

His campaign was the first of the 2020 candidates to release a policy plan regarding Native communities. The plan addresses tribal sovereignty, honoring treaty commitments, healthcare, housing, education, economic opportunity, environment and justice for Indigenous women, and more.

“I am endorsing Secretary Castro because of his commitment to tribal Indigenous people and to all people. It was not a surprise to me that Secretary Castro was the first candidate to share a detailed Indigenous platform,” said Blackcloud, vice chair of the Native American Caucus of the Iowa Democratic Party.

A day after releasing his plan in July, Castro traveled to the Meskwaki Indian Settlement in Iowa to host a meet-and-greet.

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“By centering the voices of vulnerable communities, Secretary Castro has provided the leadership needed to heal our country from the last four years,” says Falcon of the Indigenous Environmental Network.

Others like South Dakota Senator Foster’s support was garnered because Castro “is an unwavering leader raised by a strong woman in a family that has been fighting for civil rights longer than Donald Trump has been trying to tear them apart.”

Castro is scheduled to speak at the Native American Presidential Forum on August 20 at 3 p.m. central time.

“I am honored by the support of these leaders and vow from the first day of my administration to work with them to honor our nation’s commitment to Indigenous communities,” Castro said.

Follow Indian Country Today for more after his remarks at the Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum. 

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Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is the Rowland and Pat Journalism Fellow at Indian Country Today and a reporter-producer. Her email is: On Twitter: @aliyahjchavez