Author Marianne Williamson kicked off the Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum in Sioux City, Iowa, where tribal leaders, elders and directors of Native organizations questioned four presidential candidates.
Williamson spoke about making amends to Native Americans. She also said, if elected president, she would take down the portrait of Andrew Jackson at the White House.
“You can have just a base level knowledge of American history, which I do, and know of Andrew Jackson’s role in the Trail of Tears,” Williamson said. “It is one of the great shames, the great black marks on the heart and psyche of American history. This is not a president who should be shown the honor of his portrait hanging in the Oval Office.”
Fellow 2020 presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) responded to a question about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
“I think of this in two ways. One is the importance of data and the federal government getting serious about collecting data and making that data publicly available, “Warren said. “The other part and go back to the tribal sovereignty and why it is we need the tribal nations on the front lines adequately resourced so they can provide the first line of defense.”
Later, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Montana Governor Steve Bullock took questions. Bullock appeared via video and spoke about promoting health care and Indian child welfare.
In a press conference after the event, Klobuchar said her housing policy addresses Native Americans. In her home state of Minnesota, there are many homeless Native people living in the Twin Cities.
“If we’re really going to move in a big way on this issue housing tax credits, and making it easier for people to afford housing we have to do it together as a country,” she said.
Cheyenne River Sioux Chairman Harold Frazier told Klobuchar flooding on his South Dakota reservation has destroyed aging infrastructure and washed out roads including on the neighboring Standing Rock reservation.
“Two people lost their lives and I’ve seen nothing major coming down for Indian Country as far as infrastructure and I believe the powers in the federal government just don’t care.”
The same question and answer format continues for a total of 11 presidential candidates appearing at the two-day forum.