Today I am releasing a new plan to empower Tribal Nations and ensure all Native people have the opportunities and resources to thrive. Read more here: p4a.us/indian-country

Posted by Pete Buttigieg on Monday, October 14, 2019
Pete Buttigieg: INDIAN COUNTRY - Achieving Autonomy for Tribal Nations & Enhancing Opportunities for Native People to Thrive

Presidential candidates continue outreach in Indian Country

With a growing number of communities across the nation celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day, another Democratic presidential candidate announced plans to improve the federal government's relationship with the first Americans.

As mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg has some of the most direct experience with tribes and their everyday needs. He helped make history by welcoming the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians back to its homelands and negotiated a government-to-government with the tribe, a first in the state.

But he was lagging behind others in the 2020 field when it came to Indian Country. That changed on Monday as Buttigieg vowed to "reset" the relationship between tribal nations and the United States as president.

“The United States’ relationship with other sovereign nations should be guided by robust, meaningful, and respectful diplomacy,” said Buttigieg.

“Our interactions with tribal nations should be no different. It is time for the federal government to reset its relationships and interactions with these nations,” Buttigieg continued. “We have to acknowledge the shameful failures in our relationship with tribal nations and recommit our energies towards active diplomacy as the best way to heal and move forward to a thriving and healthy future together.”

Buttigieg's Indian Country platform addresses some of the most pressing policy issues of the day. He is vowing to create a national commission to study the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women within his first 100 days on office, to seek "mandatory" funding for the Indian Health Service and recognize tribal regulatory authority over their lands.

“For too long, the U.S. government has failed to consider not only the future of Indian Country, but the present,” his campaign said in releasing the comprehensive strategy. “Under a Buttigieg administration, tribal nations will have a partner in the federal government. Pete will ensure that our Native communities can grow and thrive for generations to come.”

Despite his favorable record, Buttigieg was not among the 11 candidates who participated in the historic Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum, which took place over two days in Sioux City, Iowa, in August. His campaign told Indianz.Com at the time that he had a scheduling conflict.

By then, Julián Castro, a former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Elizabeth Warren, the U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, had already released detailed Indian Country platforms. Cory Booker, the U.S. Senator from New Jersey, was quick to follow through he didn't take part in the event due to scheduling conflicts of his own.

Congratulations to the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians on today’s Four Winds South Bend opening. South Bend will...

Posted by Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Those who participated used the time to lay out positive positions on a wide range of issues, from health care and tribal homelands to tribal sovereignty and climate change -- all before a national audience.

“This is Indian Country 101 for America,” saidO.J. Semans, a citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe who co-directs Four Directions Vote, one of the hosts of the event.

Buttigieg and his team hasn't ignored Indian Country at all -- they met with leaders of the Meskwaki Nation, where he stopped by the tribe’s powwow earlier in August. He also participated in a roundtable with tribal leaders during a recent Democratic party debate in Michigan.

Since the Native forum, the Democratic party hosted another debate, though tribal issues did not come up. A fourth is taking place on Tuesday, with Buttigieg and 11 other candidates who met the criteria sharing the stage in Westerville, Ohio.

Buttigieg isn't the only White House hopeful looking to make a splash ahead of the event. Julián Castro, who led the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the latter years of the Barack Obama administration, announced another round of endorsements on Monday, including additional ones from Indian leaders.

Margarita Ortega, a citizen of the Red Lake Nation who ran for public office in Minnesota last year, and Lance LaMont, who is Lakota, are among those backing Castro. Both are leaders in the urban Indian community in Minneapolis.

In August, Castro announced endorsements from Christina Blackcloud, a citizen of the Meskwaki Nation who serves as vice chair of the Native American Caucus of the Iowa Democratic Party; Red Dawn Foster, a citizen of the Oglala Sioux Tribe who serves in the South Dakota State Senate; Arlando Teller, a citizen of the Navajo Nation who serves in the Arizona State House of Representatives; and Jennifer K. Falcon, an environmental leader and citizen of the Fort Peck Tribes.

“Naat’áanii is the Navajo word for leader. And a leader advocates, promotes, protects and uplifts his community. Julián Castro is the Naat’áanii for the United States of America,” Teller said ahead of the Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum in August. Blackcloud introduced the candidate at the event.

Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum: Julián Castro - August 20, 2019

No other 2020 hopeful has announced as many Indian Country supporters as Castro. Elizabeth Warren has named just one though it's a prominent figure -- Rep. Deb Haaland (D-New Mexico), who is one of the first two Native women in Congress.

Criteria for participating in the Democratic debate on Tuesday includes meeting donor contribution and polling thresholds. In terms of polling, Buttigieg tends to run behind Joe Biden, who served vice president under Barack Obama; Bernie Sanders, the U.S. Senator from Vermont, Elizabeth Warren; and Kamala Harris, the U.S. Senator from California.

Sanders, Warren and Harris all participated in the Native forum. Biden was among the notable absentees, though his campaign has acknowledged receipt of an invitation to attend a second event that Four Directions Vote and the Native Organizers Alliance, the other co-host, are planning to hold in Nevada on January 24-25.

Castro tends to run further behind Buttigieg when it comes to polls. Still, he has qualified to appear in Tuesday's debate.

Note: Thumbnail photo of Pete Buttigieg with leaders of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and elected officials in South Bend, Indiana, from South Bend Common Council.

Indigenous Peoples Day #NativeVote #NativeVote2020
A selection of social media posts from the 2020 Democratic and Independent presidential candidates on Indigenous Peoples Day, 2019.

Mayor Pete @pokegnek
Over the past few years as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg has frequently praised and talked about the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. Here's a selection of his social media posts.

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