Leaders of three tribes meet Donald Trump during Arizona stop

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump with Arizona tribal leaders and State Sen. Carlyle Begay (R), second from left, on June 18, 2016. Photo by Francisco Valencia via The Navajo Post

Leaders of three Arizona tribes met with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump over the weekend, Indian Country Today and The Navajo Post reported.

Representatives of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, the Cocopah Tribe and the Pascua Yaqui Tribe spent about 30 minutes with the real estate mogul during a campaign stop in Phoenix on Saturday, ICT said. Carlyle Begay, a Republican state lawmaker who is a member of the Navajo Nation and is running for Congress, also took part.

“It’s important to build bridges,” Begay told ICT of the encounter. “I don’t think we should turn down the opportunity to meet with any candidates and get them to understand the importance of federal trust responsibilities, about the history of tribes, which is replete with mistakes, tragic actions and lost opportunities. We can’t change that history, but we’re not condemned to repeat it.”

The Navajo Post, a privately owned newspaper, shared photos online from the event. One shows Trump with about six tribal members, including Begay.

"Although we may not agree with everything Donald Trump stands for, I feel Blessed to have had the opportunity to educate and have had a discussion with a Presidential candidate on issues that pertain to the Yaqui Nation," Francisco Valencia, a council member for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe whose photos were shared by The Navajo Post, wrote on Facebook following the meeting.

"I appreciate Mr. Trump for listening to our concerns as we discussed issues pertaining to Tribal Sovereignty, Americas Trust Responsibilities to Indian Tribes, Tribal Land Issues, Tribal Water Issues, Tribal Gaming and consultation," Valencia added.

In response to questions on his Facebook post, Valencia said other tribal leaders were asked to join the meeting but only five showed up. Verlon M. Jose, the vice chairman of the Tohono O'odham Nation, confirmed that he was invited but did not attend because he had "local issues to address."

The Navajo Nation itself did not send anyone to the meeting due to scheduling conflicts, ICT and other outlets reported. Navajo leaders have already met with Democrats Hillary Clinton, who has been endorsed by Vice President Jonathan Nez, and Bernie Sanders, who hosted rally on the reservation in March.

In addition to meeting with Trump, Begay delivered an invocation at Trump's rally, Brahm Resnik of 12 News / KPNX reported on Twitter.

Get the Story:
Navajo Leaders Opt Out of Meeting With Trump (Indian Country Today 6/20)
‘Pocahontas’ Isn’t The Only Native American Trump Has Offended (The Daily Beast 6/18)
Remember when Donald Trump went after another minority group 20 years ago? (NJ.Com 6/18)

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