Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders traveled to Oklahoma over the weekend to address the 28th annual Comanche Nation Fair Powwow, making him the first presidential candidate to visit the Comanche Nation since Theodore Roosevelt.
“Thank you so much for allowing me to be part of this beautiful, beautiful celebration. I have been, needless to say, to many events in my political career, but I do not believe that I’ve been to anything as beautiful and as moving as this event,” said Sanders. “So thank you so much for allowing me to be with you.”
Senator Sanders discussed several important topics during his visit, including the criminal justice system that disproportionately affects minorities and Native American communities, poverty, and broken treaties. A special meeting took place before the event where Sanders met with members of the tribe to discuss the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women.
Sanders has promised the following to Native American communities should he become president:
- Appoint an Attorney General that will work with Native communities to remedy the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW)
- Fight Republican efforts to suppress voting rights in Native communities.
- Fight against budget cuts to the Department of Interior, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Education, and the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians.
- Provide respources to “protect and revitalize indigenous languages, religions, cultures, and traditions.”
- Appoint adequate representation of Native peoples in the highest level of government.
- Expand protections for tribal lands.
- Enact criminal justice reform in Indian Country, including allowing tribal nations to prosecute criminal offenders for violent crimes that occur within tribal borders.
“The pain, the lies, and the broken treaties that have fallen upon the American Indian people has got to end. It should have ended hundreds of years ago; it should have never happened,” Sanders said. “Our job is to end those sins, those terrible things, and bring our people together and treat our Native American people with the respect and dignity that God knows they are entitled to.”