Tomorrow Montana Governor Steve Bullock will sit down for a one-on-one interview at the Indian Country Today headquarters located at The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. It is the first time a presidential candidate will make a visit to a Native newsroom.
This election cycle has already made history in other ways: there have been a record number of presidential candidates that have made campaign stops on tribal lands, released official policies their views of Indian affairs and mentioned Indian Country at various national debates.
“To my knowledge, I don’t know of a presidential candidate who has visited a Native newspaper, radio station or television studio,” said Paul DeMain, former editor of News from Indian Country and reporter who has covered Indian Country for more than 45 years. He is a citizen of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin. The Sequoyah National Research Center, who is home to the American Native Press Archives, also has no previous knowledge of such an event.
This visit comes after an invitation for all presidential candidates to join Indian Country Today for an in-depth interview to talk all things Indian Country leading up to the 2020 election. The conversation will be moderated by editor Mark Trahant.
Bullock was one of the eleven candidates to participate at last month’s Frank LaMere Presidential Forum on Native Issues. He made his remarks and answered questions from a panel of tribal leaders via video conference call. Bullock pointed to his track record working with Montana’s seven tribal nations. He also appeared at the Meskwaki Powwow in July.
"Governor Bullock is looking forward to talking about his partnership with tribal governments and his state legislature’s Indian Caucus, and the real progress they have been able to make together — on healthcare, economic development, public safety, cultural preservation, and more,” said Nathan Stein, spokesman for the Bullock campaign.
Bullock is one of a handful of candidates who addressed Indian Country recently.
He has been actively campaigning in Indian Country, highlighting his work as Governor of Montana. He has previously granted funding for language preservation programs, worked to combat Native youth suicide and vowed to investigate the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women. He is also one of a number of democrats who announced support of impeaching President Trump this afternoon.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders gave remarks the Comanche Nation Fair Powwow in Lawton, Oklahoma, yesterday where he talked about a “broken” criminal justice system, high poverty rates and broken treaties. He was the first presidential candidate to visit the nation since Theodore Roosevelt.
Sanders also met with other community members and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women advocates before attending the powwow. Attendees say this event highlighted the story of Ci’Lina Deloney, a Native woman whose body was found in 2017, amongst others.
Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke also visited an arts workshop at the Meskwaki tribal gym in Tama, Iowa, on Sunday morning. He spent his morning visiting with community members and giving remarks.
Additionally, a number of candidates including Bullock, Julián Castro, O’Rourke and Sanders tweeted statistics about yesterday’s call to address equal pay for Native women.
In an article published by Law 360 on September 13, experts say Senator Elizabeth Warren’s plan for Native communities is a “good start” to addressing Indian Country.
Cover photo: Governor Bullock during a 2019 visit to Iowa. Photo by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons.