Dr. Aaron Payment, Chairperson of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, is seen on the far left along with tribal leaders and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in Detroit, Michigan, on July 30, 2019. Photo: Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians

Aaron Payment: Candidates must understand and respect tribal sovereignty

Dr. Aaron Payment, Chairperson of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, is among a group of tribal officials participating in roundtables with several Democratic presidential candidates in Detroit, Michigan, this week. He offered his thoughts about the Native vote and the upcoming 2020 election as he continues to meet with the candidates at the tribal roundtables.

Tribes are non partisan and look to support candidates who understand and respect tribal sovereignty. For too long, partisan politics have taken the Native Vote and needs of Indian Country for granted. I will meet with anyone who is interested in counting us in.

In 2016, the number of potential Native votes in Michigan, Wisconsin and other swing states was more than enough to win key electoral college votes. In the last Presidential election, I met with candidates but clearly they failed to articulate a substantive platform on Native issues.

This is simply not smart as the Native vote can determine the outcome given our population in key states in 2016 was multiples of the margin of victories in these states and still is.

A Tribal Labor and Sovereignty Act compromise, honoring the US Constitution and fully funding the treaty and trust obligation, ironing out jurisdictional issues including protection of victims and missing and murdered indigenous women, Indian Country tax exempt bond financing, participation in a national infrastructure bill, and legislating a clean Carcieri fix are top line issues I’d like to hear the candidates include in their respective platforms.

Further, it’s time for a American Indian Cabinet Appointment.

I am sure other tribal leaders are willing to meet with President Trump and Governor Weld to promote the same issues. Neither have indicated an interest to date.

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