With just a few days ahead of the 2020 general election, young Native Americans in Nevada took the time to speak with Patricia Ackerman, Nevada Congressional candidate for District 2, about the different issues Indigenous Peoples are facing around the state.
A group of five young leaders kicked off the virtual discussion by introducing themselves in their native language. These tribal members are a part of the Nevada Native Youth Council, a group associated with the Nevada Statewide Native American Caucus. It’s an organization focused on empowering Indigenous voters.
The leaders asked Ackerman about tribal land reparations, mental health services and education reform, like introducing an inclusive school curriculum that would accurately discuss Native culture and history.
Ackerman acknowledged that there isn’t a universal process to implement an inclusive curriculum, but she believes it’s up to communities to engage with one another.
“If we create communities and partnerships that encourage these ongoing conversations then I think we can continue to circle back and reexamine our experiences and continue to challenge our beliefs and biases,” Ackerman said.
Tziavi Melendez, is a high schooler and Northern Southern Paiute Western Shoshone. She’s also a member of the Reno Sparks Indian Colony. She went on to focus Ackerman’s attention on violence against Native Americans.
According to the 2019 report conducted by the U.S Department of Interior Office of Congressional Legislative Affairs, it has been found that Native people are two and a half times more likely to experience violent crimes and at least two times more likely to experience rape or sexual assault.
Melendez asked Ackerman what existing legislation she plans on backing if she were elected.
“The Savanna’s Act that was introduced by representative Norma Torres and senator Lisa Murkowski, what it would do is it would create standards for the investigation of murdered and missing indigenous women," Ackerman said.
Ackerman also said she would support the Not Invisible Act, which would direct the Department of Interior and the Department of Justice to create a joint commission. The commission would identify how to best prevent, report and respond to the violence and human trafficking across Indigenous communities.