Published July 2, 2016
SPOKANE – With his presidential campaign still active, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders addressed the National Congress of American Indians at the organization’s 2o16 Mid Year Conference in Spokane, Washington via a three-and-a-half minute video on Thursday morning.
Sanders was one of four presidential candidates invited to address the conference that drew tribal leaders from throughout Indian Country. He was the only presidential candidate to address the conference. The Clinton campaign sent a representative. Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and Liberterian presidential candidate Gary Johnson were no shows.
During the primary season, Sanders met with more than 90 tribes in over two dozen meetings in nearly 20 states.
On Thursday Sanders voiced his gratitude to tribes who met with him during the primary season.
“Poverty is much too high. Unemployment is much too high. The healthcare system is inadequate,” Sanders stated. “This cannot continue.” Visiting the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, he saw people living in third world conditions and he said that it is unacceptable.
“We owe all of you a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid. We must honor our treaty obligations,” said Sanders.
While Sanders is out of the race for the Democratic presidnetial nomination mathematically, he has elected to stay in the campaing in order to move his supporters’ concerns forward and hopefully into the Democratic platform that will be adopted at the Democratic National Conventions later this month in Philadephia.
“Senator Sanders’ video address encourages tribal representatives to continue fighting for the most progressive tribal agenda possible. His ’empowering tribal nations’ platform represents a progression of ideas that not only continues gains made in the Obama administration, but builds upon that foundation,” commented Nicole Willis, national tribal outreach director for the Bernie Sanders campaign to Native News Online.
“I would hope that from here on out we come to expect the type of engagement we saw from Bernie Sanders and that politicians realize that tribes will no longer settle for a backseat role. We need to leverage this moment in time into a lasting political standard,” Willis continued.
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