Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg announced a formal policy plan Thursday to “uphold tribal sovereignty and improve the lives of Native Americans." The plan was published on Bloomberg’s campaign website.
The former three-term mayor of New York City and Democratic presidential candidate says he will partner with tribes to improve healthcare, build infrastructure and end the violence against Indigenous women, among other things.
Bloomberg’s plan says it ‘will honor the treaty and trust relationship between the federal government and tribes’ by reaffirming land rights, respecting tribal sovereignty, improving healthcare and enhancing economic and educational opportunities.
The plan also condemns President Donald J. Trump’s record working with Indian Country in the past.
“The hostility and disrespect Donald Trump has shown toward Native Americans is disgraceful, and it will end with my administration,” said Mike Bloomberg in a statement. “The indigenous peoples of this land deserve respect – respect for their sovereignty, respect for their right to self-governance, respect for their culture – and that’s what they’ll receive when I’m president. I will increase Native American representation in the White House, deliver more resources to the Indian Health Service and tribal colleges, and treat tribal nations with the dignity they deserve.”
The policy was created in consultation with Native American policy experts, the campaign said. It was also reviewed by a number of tribal leaders before being released on Thursday morning.
Bloomberg says he will invest in infrastructure to bring high-speed internet to Native people living in rural places, negotiate for Indigenous rights in international climate agreements and engage in ‘meaningful consultation’ with tribes on federal land management.
“The infrastructure on and around the lands of the Navajo Nation is appalling,” said Arizona State Representative Arlando Teller, Navajo. “We need a partner in the White House who understands and cares about the challenges our communities face. Mike Bloomberg will fund infrastructure projects and increase broadband access on tribal lands.”
Arizona's primary election is March 17, 2020.
Another topic Bloomberg addresses is protecting Native women and girls.
If elected, Bloomberg says he will launch an ‘unprecedented effort to strengthen protections’ for Indigenous women by working with the Justice Department to investigate cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women, work with Congress to pass Savanna’s Act and reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act."
Bloomberg says he also plans to defend Native children through supporting the Indian Child Welfare Act. His plan, he says, will ensure that Native children are ‘not unnecessarily separated from their communities.’
(Previous story: Indian child welfare legal challenge is about ending tribal sovereignty)
Of the eight Democrats who are running for president, half of them have specific policy plans for Native people. The candidates with policy positions are former Mayor Bloomberg, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren.
- Elizabeth Warren says US has a ‘moral obligation’ to Indian Country
- Sanders rocks forum says all Americans should be aware of Native contributions
- Klobuchar promises strong relationship with Indian Country if elected president
“Native communities need action now,” said Arizona State Representative Myron Tsosie, Navajo. “Mike Bloomberg’s plan is developed by indigenous people themselves and will build bridges between the White House and tribal nations.”
Both Arizona Representatives Teller and Tsosie have formally endorsed Bloomberg for president.
Those who helped inform the policy plan and support it are Lisa Johnson Blackhorse, Tlingit, and the former chair of the Arizona Democratic Native Caucus; Andrew Lee, Seneca, board member of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian New York; and Geoffrey Standing Bear, Osage, principal chief of the Osage Nation.
On healthcare, Bloomberg says he will work with Congress to fully fund the Indian Health Service and increase access to mental health service and support the Native American Suicide Prevention Act. He says he will address the opioid crisis by expanding addiction treatment.
And in education, Bloomberg says he will increase funding for all minority serving institutions, including tribal colleges and universities.
(Previous story: Tribal colleges advocate at the Capitol for funds)
Bloomberg will host a voting rally in Oklahoma, a state home to 39 tribal nations, later today at the Bricktown Events Center in Oklahoma City where he will talk about his new policy proposal for Indian Country. Doors open for the event at 3 p.m. Central Time and start at 3:30 p.m. A campaign spokesperson said he will “continue to seek opportunities to engage with tribal communities as he travels across the country.”
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