Democratic presidential candidates including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro and Marianne Williamson will be attending a forum of Native Americans in Sioux City in Iowa on Monday and Tuesday the forum called for following the death of longtime Native American activist Frank LaMere. They will obviously be trying to gain support from the community in the coming 2020 Presidential election.
Tribal leaders and citizens will talk with candidates about issues including health care, education and violence against National American women.
Marcella LeBeau, a 99-year-old citizen of the Two Kettles Band of the Lakota and who is a registered Democrat said that in the past politicians largely overlooked Native American issues
“We’re like a third-world country,” she said. “No one really listens to us.”
Marcella LeBeau, Democrat and Lakota Native American
Many Native Americans it is believed are not reflected in the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey due to living in “hard-to-count” rural areas so the census cannot accurately measure their voter registration. Census estimates say Native Americans make up around 1.7% — or 5.3 million — of the U.S. population, and suggest that more than 3.7 million Native Americans are of voting age.
As more Native Americans gain access to the polls, they may be a powerful asset for candidates. Analysts believe that the Native American vote could help swing the vote towards a democratic win.
“..are you going to pay attention to this group that has traditionally been ignored?”
Nicole Willis, Outreach Advisor
Nicole Willis, a citizen of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, living in Seattle said of the canvassing of Native American voters “It’s almost like a moral test of a candidate. Like, are you going to pay attention to this group that has traditionally been ignored?” Nicole should know as she was the Native American outreach adviser to President Barack Obama, as well as a presidential advisor to Bernie Sanders in 2016.