Published March 18, 2016
FLAGSTAFF – U.S. Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders seemed genuinely concerned when he spoke about the high suicide and poverty rates found on Indian Country.
“Native Americans have not been heard on many issues that impact their communities,” said Sanders to the 2,000 or so people in attendance. “The existence of negotiated treaties… that coerced millions of acres of Native American homelands to the United States in exchange for guaranteed rights, many of those rights have not been upheld.”
Before Sanders took the stage, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye applauded him for being the first, and so far only, presidential candidate to visit the Navajo Nation in this presidential race.
“Across Indian Country, Bernie Sanders does receive a huge support because of his commitment to government-to-government relationship and to maintaining the treaty obligations and trust responsibilities,” Begaye said. “This says a lot about this presidential candidate to come and step on Indian Country.”
Throughout his nearly two-hour speech, Sanders also acknowledged injustices that have befallen Native Americans saying, “It’s important that we lay this out because without the knowledge we cannot go forward.”
“The United States government has a duty to ensure equal opportunities and justice for all of their citizens including our first Americans…Let us be honest we are not doing that today,” said Sanders. “One in four Native Americans are living in poverty, and the second leading cause of death is suicide, this speaks to incredible dispair.”
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Navajo Times. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
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