Published February 27, 2016
HIBBING, MINNESOTA — Red Lake Band member Tim Sumner, who is also a Beltrami county commissioner, was honored to be one of two persons selected by the Senator Bernie Sanders campaign to introduce the presidential candidate at a rally held at the historic Hibbing High School in Hibbing, Minnesota on Friday, February 26, 2016.
Sanders is seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination and running against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Sumner who welcomed the crowd was representing area tribal nations. He was followed by former State Representative and current St. Louis County Commissioner, Tom Rukavina of Virginia, MN who was representing labor and iron range steelworkers. In addition to Sumner, Red Lake Tribal Representative from Little Rock, Robert “Charlie” Reynolds also attended the rally.
Prior to these introductions, Sanders took about 20 minutes for a sit-down with tribal leaders asking questions about issues of concern to Minnesota Ojibwe tribal nations. Ten or twelve representatives from Red Lake, Bois Forte, Leech Lake and White Earth sat at a table and fielded questions from Sanders about issues. Sanders was somewhat taken aback to hear of the health, education, drug, and unemployment challenges of area tribes. He was also heartened to hear of Red Lake’s new solar initiative. Sanders was very supportive sharing many of the same issues of concern to American Indians. After several photos, Sanders then went on to visit with steelworkers for about the same amount of time.
Natives and Sanders agreed on pipe lines, alternative energy, employment, broadband in rural areas. There seemed to be little disagreement. After a very respectful yet informal discussion, Sanders asked to be excused saying that he had been been meeting with Native American leaders across the country. He apologized for the short meeting and thanked everyone for meeting with him.
In the ornate 1800 seat high school auditorium, Sumner kicked off the rally. He began his remarks by introducing himself in Ojibwemowin, and then to wild cheers asked if the group if they were “Feeling the Bern.”
“It’ a pleasure to be here, I’m very excited to have this honor.” After going through some of the issues that tribal leaders discussed with Sanders moments before, Sumner concluded his remarks with, “Who’s ready for the revolution?” after the applause subsided, he said, “I encourage you to get out to caucus and support Bernie Sanders.”
Sanders went through much of his stump speech. At one point talking about Super Pacs, Sanders said, “you are a super, super pac, and I’d rather have you on my side a million times over than all the money in the world from wall street.”
“At $225,000 per speech for Goldman Sachs, you’ve got to be a really good speaker,” Sanders said to laughter. “The New York Times said in an editorial it would be a good idea to release the transcripts because what you say behind closed doors might be different from what you say to the American people. I would hope she would do that. Hillary Clinton said she’d do it if other people did it, I am prepared to release all the transcripts from speeches I made on Wall Street…and here they are,” Sanders said making a motion of throwing a stack of papers into the crowd to wild cheers.
“I don’t have to tell anybody in this room that the way we have treated Native Americans from Day 1 is a national disgrace. The levels of poverty, the lack of health care, the lack of educational opportunity, that is not acceptable, and together we will change that. Together we will change that.”
“If we can win here in Minnesota, we’ve got a real path to victory for the democratic nomination,” said Sanders.
Sanders made the campaign stop on the Iron Range to rally support just days before Super Tuesday, May 1 at 6:30 pm when Minnesota will be one of 12 states casting votes for presidential hopefuls.
Photos by Michael Meuers
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