I am Human | Native Americans for Bernie Sanders All over this country, Native Americans have suffered far too much, and for far too long. They deserve our respect, and they deserve to have a voice, so that their ...
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It is with the greatest respect that I share with OEN readers these profound and incisive views of Native leaders on WHY and HOW in it is with great urgency and new sense of potency which which they support Bernie Sanders for President. Please take the time to read these 2 lightly edited articles, because they clarify what a stance against corporate power means to Native people.
NATIVE NEWS ONLINE STAFF 17 DEC 2019
WASHINGTON Following Sen. Sanders most recent trip to Nevada, Chairman Laurie Thom of the Yerington Paiute Tribe and Navajo former Arizona State Representative Wenona Benally Baldenegro endorsed Bernie Sanders for president, and announced they would serve as Chairs of his campaign efforts in their respective states.
"I am proud to endorse Bernie Sanders' candidacy for president of the United States," stated Yerington Paiute Tribe Chairman Laurie Thom. "Last weekend, I toured Nevada's Anaconda Copper Mine with the woman I hope will be our next First Lady, Jane Sanders. For decades, the Anaconda mine has contaminated the groundwater of the Yerington Paiute Tribe. We are cautiously optimistic that the State's actions regarding the Site are now heading in the right direction, but we will be watching closely. As Chairman, I know firsthand that environmental issues are also human-rights issues. Bernie Sanders knows this too. As president, he will invest in minority communities, who are disproportionately affected by pollution."
Chairman Laurie Thom is the elected Chairman of the Yerington Paiute Tribe. She has been an environmentalist, victim's advocate, police officer and is now a strong advocate for the rights of Native Americans.
"Climate change poses the greatest threat to the survival of Indigenous communities," said Wenona Benally Baldenegro. "Senator Sanders has stood on the front lines with us in our fight to save our ancestral lands, our collective Mother Earth. This is why I am endorsing Senator Bernie Sanders for President. He understands what is at stake not only for our communities, but for all of humanity. I know that, as President, he will take bold steps to tackle this global crisis."
Wenona Benally Baldenegro represented nine of Arizona's twenty-two Indian tribes while serving as a former member of the Arizona State House of Representatives in District 7. She is an attorney who holds degrees from Harvard Law School and Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. She is a member of the Navajo Nation.
These endorsements are the latest of several tribal leaders endorsing Sen. Sanders presidential campaign. They demonstrate his commitment to forming the most diverse coalition of support of any president in history and putting traditionally marginalized communities at the forefront of his vision for America.
Long before the casinos, mines and brothels, long before Las Vegas, Reno and Elko, and long before the snow-capped mountains earned this land the name Nevada, there were the Washoe, Paiute and Shoshone people.
For centuries, they have called the Great Basin home. They gathered pinyon pine nuts before the silver-rich Comstock Lode was discovered, creating a crushing demand for the trees that were used to fuel mining operations. The Paiute fished the Cui-ui from Pyramid Lake before its water was diverted for agriculture. They drank the water before there were any mines or hazardous chemical runoff to worry about.
For generations, they and the rest of Indian Country have largely eschewed U.S. politics, distrustful of a government that waged war against them, allowed them to be enslaved, polluted the land and, to this day, fails to live up to its treaty obligations to them. They have also long been physically excluded from that political system, with the nearest polling sites to reservations sometimes hundreds of miles away.
Now, fueled by a renewed sense of urgency after the Dakota access pipeline protests at Standing Rock in 2016 and 2017 and recent electoral victories, including the election of Rep. Deb Haaland and Rep. Sharice Davids as the first two Native American women to serve in Congress, Native leaders say they're preparing to make a stand in the 2020 election starting with Nevada's Democratic presidential caucus in February.
Their message to presidential hopefuls is simple: The Native vote matters too.
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