The University of Nevada, Las Vegas recently hosted the 2020 Native American Presidential Forum where some Democratic hopefuls addressed indigenous communities and their concerns.
Four presidential hopefuls participated, including Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Tom Steyer and Tulsi Gabbard. Steyer appeared in person while the others sent in prerecorded messages or appeared on video chat.
Representatives from various tribes across the country asked the candidates questions on topics ranging from climate change to economic development for Native communities.
Steyer said there needs to be an understanding of historical context in order to affect change.
“It’s really important to remember, in my opinion, policy comes out of narrative. I think for us to get the policy right, it's necessary to tell the true story of the last 500 years.”
Warren, Buttigieg and Gabbard all provided similar statements.
OJ Semans is with Four Directions, an advocacy organization for Native voices that co-hosted the event. He says the forum is a way to empower indigenous communities to speak out and take action in order to correct what he calls the government's “moral compass.”
“It's not something that we just plan. We don’t just look for 2020. We have issues that have been here for hundreds and hundreds of years.”
According to the last U.S. Census, 1.7 percent of Nevada’s population identify as Native American, and the state is home to several tribal nations.