Bernie Sanders Would Respect Native Rights

Willow Tomeo

As a Yakima-registered Colville who grew up in Spokane, and now going to the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe, my perspective is that Bernie has throughout his 40-year career always defended civil rights for all people of color. He recently hired Ojibwa Tara Houska as his advisor; she is an activist and his hiring her proves a genuine empathy for native concerns. His stance on the Environment and his unprecedented stances against the corporate stranglehold on most government processes: these are vital to Native peoples. As the word gets out on him, huge pluralities in our tribal voting in the primaries are becoming very clear. Certainly, this is one of the reasons he won Oklahoma. 

Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest and Great Plateau, protecting one of the few pristine environments left in the US: this would be inconceivable with both Trump and Clinton and their proven kowtowing to every corporate desire, especially the Wall Street Bailout which Americans will have to pay for over the next 3 decades. Clinton in 1964 was one of the opponents of the 1964 Civil Rights act, Barry Goldwater, back when she was a Young Republican. Bernie, on the other hand, got arrested in Chicago protesting segregation, and a recent photo of Martin Luther King in Selma clearly includes Bernie Sanders as a very young man, only 20 feet behind King in the photo.

For all Native peoples, there is so much at stake that I am impelled to not only share my views with your readers but also more vitally to ask that you, like the Seattle Times did recently, give an early endorsement to Bernie Sanders for the Democrat nomination. The Republicans are in such a disarray and need your guidance more than Democrats do, so you could also endorse whomever you want for the Republican nomination.

Natives in general lack representation in both politics and in the media, and so we have a profound faith that having Bernie in the White House for 8 years could bring new Native elected officials at all levels. I trust him, above all, and that is the most important criterion for us after centuries of abuse, neglect, racism, broken treaties, stolen land, and a litany of other injustices. My friends from many tribes, plus my family and I, all recognize that this is a great chance for us, to have a Vermont Senator who descends from Polish Jews as President, and when we look at Trump's and Hillary's records, how can there be any wiser choice!

Please discuss this with your editorial board and make this endorsement as soon as possible. 

Willow Tomeo is an urban Native from Spokane, WA attending the Institute of American Indian Arts with a major in studio arts and a minor in Indigenous liberal studies. Other than my comics, this is my first published piece.

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Russell Bates's picture
I am Russell Bates, an Oklahoma Kiowa writer since 1968. Bernie Sanders "won" Oklahoma because the country hicks and evangelicals here do not want a woman President and would never vote for one. The Native vote here is dust in the wind. As to whether Sanders would respect Native rights, check how he voted on the Cobell Settlement, where the $385 billions stolen by Reagan were awarded to members of the American Indian Trust and Sen. John McCain got it reduced to one cent on the dollar. Sanders voted FOR! Bernie Sanders should go back to KFC and peddle his chicken gizzards somewhere else!
Russell Bates