Bernie Sanders used part of his rally speech in Flagstaff, Arizona this week to address an important topic – the rights of Native Americans.
This week Sanders and his wife, Jane, met with several Native American and latino leaders in Arizona. Jane Sanders visited Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s notorious Tent City jail this week, which she found “very disturbing” and “inhumane”. The Tent City jail is known to have meat removed from prisoner’s meals and utilizes chain gangs.
“We owe the Native American people so, so much.”
“They have shared their culture. They have shared their respect for the environment with us.”
“All too often, Native Americans have not been heard on issues that impact their communities. They have been told what to do. They have not been involved in the process.”
Bernie Sanders went on explaining that the United States has a responsibility to provide equal opportunity for all of its citizens, especially its first citizens, Native Americans. Yet, we have failed on that front:
“Today in America, one in four Native Americans are living in poverty, and the high school graduation rate is 67 percent, the lowest of any racial demographic group. The second leading cause of death for Native Americans between 15 and 24 is suicide. And that speaks to incredible despair.
One in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime. Most of the offenders are non-Native. Most of the programs dedicated to the tribal nations are underfunded. That has led to inadequate housing, inadequate health care, inadequate education, and insufficient law enforcement.
Today, Native Americans have a lower life expectancy and higher rates of uninsured than the population at large, and even those who have health coverage have difficulty accessing the healthcare that they need.”
You can watch the full speech above. Bernie’s discussion of Native American rights begins at 23:50.
Should Bernie Sanders become president, he promises to give jurisdiction over crimes committed on their lands to Native tribes, improve Healthcare for Native Americans, and address the gross mistreatment of Native Americans, including cultural stereotypes.
Bernie Sanders has fought for Native American rights before. Last year Sanders introduced a bill to counter the transfer of federal land to a foreign owned corporation because the land has a significant religious and cultural value to several Native Americans in the region.