Mark Trahant

The Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum in Sioux City, Iowa, is now history and nearly a dozen candidates, 10 Democrats and one Independent, made their way on stage to talk about their policy positions on issues impacting American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The sheer attention to these issues was unprecedented.

Some history: In 1976 the editor of Wasaja, Rubert Costo, wrote President Gerald Ford, and asked him about his Indian policy. He asked three questions that remain relevant: Should there be a cabinet-level Indian affairs department? How will healthcare reform impact the Indian health system? And since termination is over why not repeal some of the termination era legislation?

Costo wrote that “we operate quietly, but have a great influence upon grassroots Indian opinion.” He said that the next administration, indeed, every next administration, makes important decisions about Indian Country and that’s why candidates’ positions should be noted in advance.

That’s how it was in Iowa, too.

Every candidate talked about issues that don’t often get explored in a presidential campaign, treaty rights, Indian health, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Indian child welfare, even identity.

Four of the eleven candidates had the attendees on their feet: Senators Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders, as well as former Secretary Julián Castro, and Independent candidate Mark Charles, the first Navajo to run for president.

Several of the candidates answered questions that Costo once posed. Sen. Warren said it’s time to repeal Oliphant, a Supreme Court decision that stripped tribes of their law enforcement authority over non-Indian residents (a logic that comes directly out of the termination era).

All of the candidates pledged to fully fund the Indian health system and do more to protect Native women and to invest in data to get a more accurate accounting of the nature of the problem.

Several candidates, starting with Secretary Castro, revealed detailed plans about what they will do in Indian Country after taking office. Marianne Wiliamson said she’d start her administration by taking down the portrait of Andrew Jackson in the oval office.

Nearly every candidate was asked the first question by Marcella LaBeau from Cheyenne River, and a 99-year-old veteran of World War II. She was honored for her nursing work on the battlefield by the French government with a medal of honor. So her question is why does the United States still honor those soldiers who killed women and children and Wounded Knee?

And these answers were unanimous. Every candidate said we should rescind the medals of honor given to soldiers at Wounded Knee (the Remove the Stain Act).

What will happen next? A lot actually. The candidates left Iowa with a deeper understanding of Indian Country and that will serve them well no matter what they do next, be it President of the United States, or serve in the cabinet, on in Congress.

There is now a bar set on what candidates (and other office holders) will need to do to make the Remove the Stain Act the law.

What makes this certain is when you look at how far we’ve come since Rupert Costo wrote to Gerald Ford. Ford did not even bother to answer the Rupert Costo’s That era is over. Presidential candidates are now answering our questions and will be from now on.

Media entrance at the Orpheum Theatre in Sioux City, Iowa, for the historic Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum.

Media entrance at the Orpheum Theatre in Sioux City, Iowa, for the historic Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum.

Reporter/Producer Kolby KickingWoman and Washington Editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye are about to depart Reagan National Airport. Meeting the team in Omaha, Nebraska.

Reporter/Producer Kolby KickingWoman and Washington Editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye are about to depart Reagan National Airport. Meeting the team in Omaha, Nebraska.

Reporters/Producers Kolby KickingWoman and Aliyah Chavez meet in-person for the first time at the airport in Omaha.

Reporters/Producers Kolby KickingWoman and Aliyah Chavez meet in-person for the first time at the airport in Omaha.

Indian Country Today Executive Producer Patty Talahongva is full of energy at the airport in Omaha, Nebraska.

Indian Country Today Executive Producer Patty Talahongva is full of energy at the airport in Omaha, Nebraska.

Aliyah Chavez and Editor Mark Trahant quickly look over a story during breakfast on Aug. 18, the day before the forum and before a run through of the venue.

Aliyah Chavez and Editor Mark Trahant quickly look over a story during breakfast on Aug. 18, the day before the forum and before a run through of the venue.

Patty Talahongva talks about the forum at the breakfast meeting in Sioux City, Iowa.

Patty Talahongva talks about the forum at the breakfast meeting in Sioux City, Iowa.

In front the Orpheum theatre (waiting for Photojournalist Charlie Perry to arrive in the afternoon). 

In front the Orpheum theatre (waiting for Photojournalist Charlie Perry to arrive in the afternoon). 

Photojournalist Charlie Perry and Mark Trahant working in the hotel in the volunteer room.

Photojournalist Charlie Perry and Mark Trahant working in the hotel in the volunteer room.

Labeling all of the gear before the forum.

Labeling all of the gear before the forum.

Taylor Notah, editor of Turning Points Magazine, listens at the volunteer meeting the day before the forum.

Taylor Notah, editor of Turning Points Magazine, listens at the volunteer meeting the day before the forum.

Taylor Notah, editor of Turning Points Magazine, listens at the volunteer meeting the day before the forum.

Taylor Notah, editor of Turning Points Magazine, listens at the volunteer meeting the day before the forum.

Taylor Notah, editor of Turning Points Magazine, listens at the volunteer meeting the day before the forum.

Taylor Notah, editor of Turning Points Magazine, listens at the volunteer meeting the day before the forum.

The theatre marquee showing the forum information.

The theatre marquee showing the forum information.

Editor Mark Trahant observing the lobby and jokingly says, "We should have one of these in the office."

Editor Mark Trahant observing the lobby and jokingly says, "We should have one of these in the office."

Indian Country Today Editor Mark Trahant moderated the Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum.

Indian Country Today Editor Mark Trahant moderated the Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum.

An empty theatre. The day before the storm.

An empty theatre. The day before the storm.

OJ Semans, Mark Trahant, and Judith LeBlanc take questions from the press the day before the forum.

OJ Semans, Mark Trahant, and Judith LeBlanc take questions from the press the day before the forum.

Lycia, communications director for the National Congress of American Indians, talks about the logistics with Mark Trahant.

Lycia, communications director for the National Congress of American Indians, talks about the logistics with Mark Trahant.

The team setting up the lights and backstage back and repeat for the exclusive interviews with candidates.

The team setting up the lights and backstage back and repeat for the exclusive interviews with candidates.

Charlie Perry and Kolby KickingWoman backstage trying out the back and repeat.

Charlie Perry and Kolby KickingWoman backstage trying out the back and repeat.

Ruth Buffalo, the first Native Democratic woman elected to the North Dakota Legislature, takes photos the day before the forum.

Ruth Buffalo, the first Native Democratic woman elected to the North Dakota Legislature, takes photos the day before the forum.

Testing out the lights and back and repeat.

Testing out the lights and back and repeat.

Judith LeBlanc, director of the Native Organizers Alliance, stands for photos on the eve of the forum.

Judith LeBlanc, director of the Native Organizers Alliance, stands for photos on the eve of the forum.

Mark Trahant holds the light for photos on the eve of the forum. (The team was looking for the tripod.)

Mark Trahant holds the light for photos on the eve of the forum. (The team was looking for the tripod.)

Patty Talahongva and Charlie Perry talking about locations to interview Mark Trahant.

Patty Talahongva and Charlie Perry talking about locations to interview Mark Trahant.

Presidential candidate entrance for the forum.

Presidential candidate entrance for the forum.

Patty Talahongva and Charlie Perry interviewing Mark Trahant.

Patty Talahongva and Charlie Perry interviewing Mark Trahant.

Patty Talahongva giving Mark Trahant his cue.

Patty Talahongva giving Mark Trahant his cue.

The team watching the interview.

The team watching the interview.

Antonia Gonzales and Rhonda LeValdo of National Native News on stage on the eve of the forum.

Antonia Gonzales and Rhonda LeValdo of National Native News on stage on the eve of the forum.

Antonia Gonzales and Rhonda LeValdo of National Native News, hug Aliyah Chavez.

Antonia Gonzales and Rhonda LeValdo of National Native News, hug Aliyah Chavez.

Ruth Buffalo taking photos.

Ruth Buffalo taking photos.

Photojournalist Charlie Perry who helped with video editing at the forum.

Photojournalist Charlie Perry who helped with video editing at the forum.

Antonia Gonzales testing out the Mevo with Lycia and Mark Trahant in the background.

Antonia Gonzales testing out the Mevo with Lycia and Mark Trahant in the background.

Charlie Perry capturing b-roll.

Charlie Perry capturing b-roll.

An empty theatre.

An empty theatre.

Kolby KickingWoman telling Patty Talahongva and Charlie Perry who he is covering during the forum.

Kolby KickingWoman telling Patty Talahongva and Charlie Perry who he is covering during the forum.

The team having some lunch the day before the forum.

The team having some lunch the day before the forum.

Washington Editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye interviewing Rep. Deb Haaland, D-New Mexico, at Sen. Elizabeth Warren's campaign office in Sioux City, Iowa.

Washington Editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye interviewing Rep. Deb Haaland, D-New Mexico, at Sen. Elizabeth Warren's campaign office in Sioux City, Iowa.

Rep. Deb Haaland recording a campaign message for Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Rep. Deb Haaland recording a campaign message for Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Rep. Deb Haaland and Aliyah Chavez talking about Chavez's late uncle, Everett Chavez of Kewa Pueblo, who used to be one of the 20 governors on the All Indian Pueblo of Governors. Haaland knew him from his work and told Chavez he would be the first to help with the forum.

Rep. Deb Haaland and Aliyah Chavez talking about Chavez's late uncle, Everett Chavez of Kewa Pueblo, who used to be one of the 20 governors on the All Indian Pueblo of Governors. Haaland knew him from his work and told Chavez he would be the first to help with the forum.

Kolby KickingWoman sharing his WiFi hotspot with Mark Trahant before the forum started on Aug. 19.

Kolby KickingWoman sharing his WiFi hotspot with Mark Trahant before the forum started on Aug. 19.

Kolby KickingWoman helping Charlie Perry test out the lighting and camera angle on the morning of the forum.

Kolby KickingWoman helping Charlie Perry test out the lighting and camera angle on the morning of the forum.

Patty Talahongva holds the photo to Charlie Perry to say hi to Associate Editor Vincent Schilling. Perry was testing out the lights and camera angle on the morning of the forum.

Patty Talahongva holds the photo to Charlie Perry to say hi to Associate Editor Vincent Schilling. Perry was testing out the lights and camera angle on the morning of the forum.

Author Marianne Williamson taking questions from the press in the media room.

Author Marianne Williamson taking questions from the press in the media room.

Marcella LaBeau, 99-year-old World World II veteran, asked the first question to presidential candidates. She asked Marianne Williamson if she would support the "Remove the Stain Act."

Marcella LaBeau, 99-year-old World World II veteran, asked the first question to presidential candidates. She asked Marianne Williamson if she would support the "Remove the Stain Act."

Reporter/Producer Aliyah Chavez interviews Marianne Williamson backstage.

Reporter/Producer Aliyah Chavez interviews Marianne Williamson backstage.

Reporter/Producer Aliyah Chavez interviews Marianne Williamson backstage.

Reporter/Producer Aliyah Chavez interviews Marianne Williamson backstage.

Joe Sestak was one of the 11 presidential candidates to participate in the forum.

Joe Sestak was one of the 11 presidential candidates to participate in the forum.

After getting mic'd up, Joe Sestak talks about the beaded bracelet he was wearing.

After getting mic'd up, Joe Sestak talks about the beaded bracelet he was wearing.

Aliyah Chavez interviewed Joe Sestak backstage.

Aliyah Chavez interviewed Joe Sestak backstage.

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Aliyah Chavez and Kolby KickingWoman are hard at work.

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Aliyah Chavez and Kolby KickingWoman are hard at work.

Rep. Deb Haaland, D-New Mexico, talks about the legislative proposal she and Sen. Elizabeth Warren collaborated on. Haaland also introduced Warren at the forum.

Rep. Deb Haaland, D-New Mexico, talks about the legislative proposal she and Sen. Elizabeth Warren collaborated on. Haaland also introduced Warren at the forum.

Washington Editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye interviews presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Washington Editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye interviews presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Washington Editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye interviews presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Washington Editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye interviews presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Turning Points Magazine Editor Taylor Notah interviews presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Turning Points Magazine Editor Taylor Notah interviews presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren stops for a baby backstage.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren stops for a baby backstage.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren stops to take a picture with a baby backstage.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren stops to take a picture with a baby backstage.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren stops to take a picture with a baby and her parents backstage.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren stops to take a picture with a baby and her parents backstage.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren stops to take a picture with a baby and her parents backstage.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren stops to take a picture with a baby and her parents backstage.

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye interviews the family after taking pictures with Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye interviews the family after taking pictures with Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Cheryl Andrews-Maltais chairwoman of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Aquinnah in Massachusetts, and Rep. Deb Haaland.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Cheryl Andrews-Maltais chairwoman of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Aquinnah in Massachusetts, and Rep. Deb Haaland.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Deb Haaland.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Deb Haaland.

Aliyah Chavez interviews Gov. Steve Bullock via livestream.

Aliyah Chavez interviews Gov. Steve Bullock via livestream.

Aliyah Chavez interviews Gov. Steve Bullock via livestream.

Aliyah Chavez interviews Gov. Steve Bullock via livestream.

Charlie Perry capturing b-roll in the theatre lobby.

Charlie Perry capturing b-roll in the theatre lobby.

Indian Country Team working hard in the media room.

Indian Country Team working hard in the media room.

Kolby KickingWoman points to the camera.

Kolby KickingWoman points to the camera.

Kolby KickingWoman interviews Amy Klobuchar.

Kolby KickingWoman interviews Amy Klobuchar.

Kolby KickingWoman interviews Amy Klobuchar.

Kolby KickingWoman interviews Amy Klobuchar.

Amy Klobuchar answering questions from the press in the media room.

Amy Klobuchar answering questions from the press in the media room.

Aliyah Chavez smiles at the camera in the media room.

Aliyah Chavez smiles at the camera in the media room.

Female Native journalists (with a few missing).

Female Native journalists (with a few missing).

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye interviews Mark Charles, the first Navajo presidential candidate. Both are Navajo.

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye interviews Mark Charles, the first Navajo presidential candidate. Both are Navajo.

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye interviews Mark Charles, the first Navajo presidential candidate. Both are Navajo.

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye interviews Mark Charles, the first Navajo presidential candidate. Both are Navajo.

Mark Charles takes a photo with Native youth backstage.

Mark Charles takes a photo with Native youth backstage.

Mark Charles backstage.

Mark Charles backstage.

A photo opportunity with Mark Charles.

A photo opportunity with Mark Charles.

Forum Moderator and Indian Country Today Editor Mark Trahant.

Forum Moderator and Indian Country Today Editor Mark Trahant.

Mark Trahant on screen.

Mark Trahant on screen.

Patty Talahongva smiling for the camera while she watches a presidential candidate take questions in the media room.

Patty Talahongva smiling for the camera while she watches a presidential candidate take questions in the media room.

Aliyah Chavez and Mark Trahant working hard.

Aliyah Chavez and Mark Trahant working hard.

Kolby KickingWoman interviews John Delaney.

Kolby KickingWoman interviews John Delaney.

Kolby KickingWoman interviews John Delaney. Before the interview, Delaney talked about how people should know that New Jersey is called the Garden State.

Kolby KickingWoman interviews John Delaney. Before the interview, Delaney talked about how people should know that New Jersey is called the Garden State.

John Delaney takes questions from the press in the media room.

John Delaney takes questions from the press in the media room.

Julián Castro on stage with panelists.

Julián Castro on stage with panelists.

castro meeting patty - jbb
charlie meeting castro
charlie mic castro with aliyah - jbb
aliyah interviewing castor vertical shot - jbb
castro and tribal leader - jbb
castro with boy 2 - jbb
castro talking with ppl backstage - jbb
castro with fan - jbb
castro with native youth - jbb
castro with MMIW - jbb
castro with woman 2 - jbb
castro with kid - jbb
pics with castro - jbb
media room crowd - jbb
mark trahant and bernie shaking hands
ruth buffalo on radio show - jbb
bernie crowd side - jb
ruth buffalo phone and bernie sanders - jbb
ChaseView2MNT
mark trahant and bernie on stage - jbb
pt30
patty and native youth - jbb
patty and tribal official - jbb
patty and woman - jbb
PTKolbyAndBernie1
patty listening to interview - jbb
kolby, charlie and bernie - jbb
patty listening to interview - jbb
bernie and panelists 1 - jff
bernie and panelists 2 - jbb
theatre lobby 2
KevinAllisMNT
jarrette on screen - jbb
OJ and volunteers on stage - jbb
ICT team in newsroom - antonia g
signing backstage - jbb