By Ramona Marozas and Kate Harrison
Some Native American voters feel they’re being left out in the cold in the presidential election. Former Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders was the only one who routinely spoke about issues important to them. Now he’s campaigning for Hillary Clinton.
One family at a Sanders event in Duluth remain hopeful the other candidates will take Sanders’ lead. Ojibwe voters Andrea and Dennis Debungie took their daughter to see Sanders campaign for Hillary Clinton at an event at the University of Minnesota-Duluth in early October.
Dennis Debungie says Sanders was his first choice for president. Now he’s left with two candidates who have failed to speak up for Native people. The Standing Rock Sioux fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline is a key issue.
“One of the reasons I’m here is because I’m going to see if he talks about (the Dakota Access Pipeline) –you know–what’s going on in Standing Rock,” Dennis said. “Because he’s here to represent Hillary and I want to see if he’s on top of the topics.”
Sanders has publicly spoken against the pipeline construction before, but he didn’t mention it this night. He did address other issues related to Indian Country like climate change, clean water, education and racial equality.
Three months after Sanders lost the Democratic nomination to Clinton, Andrea Debungie holds up the former candidate’s comments as the standard she’s looking for in a candidate.
“Bernie Sanders has been the only candidate through this presidential campaign that I feel like has spoken to the audience of Native people like me, so I felt like he was someone I could really vote for,” she said
The Debungies say they wanted their daughter to see Bernie Sanders speak in person. They were originally locked out of the main event where Sanders was speaking because the venue was filled to capacity. Guards watching the front door eventually let them in. With Sanders out of the race, both Debungies say Clinton is their choice for president.