Native delegates attend DNC

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Native Americans in Arizona were well represented at the Democratic Party's National Convention in Philadelphia last week. The convention was held at the Wells Fargo Center July 25-28, 2016.

In electing delegates for the convention the Democratic Party employed an affirmative action process governed by the Charter and By-laws of the Democratic Parties of the United States and Arizona. The party actively sought to encourage the election of delegates, from minority groups, such as Native Americans, who have been traditionally over-looked and under-represented in the political process.

Native Americans, from Arizona, who were elected are: Jonathan Nez, vice president Navajo Nation, (Shonto); Edward Manuel, chairman Tohono O'odham Nation (Sells); Benjamin H. Nuvasma, former chairman Hopi Tribe (Pinetop); Stephen Roe Lewis, governor Gila River Indian Community (Sacaton); and Delia Caryle, vice chair, Ak-Chin Indian Community (Maricopa).

The Democratic Party Platform contains the current principles and political positions of the party on a variety of issues. It was developed after a series of heated debates on July 8-9, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.

Two full pages of the 55-page document are devoted to honoring Indigenous tribal nations.

The platform contains a specific provision: "...to work on a government-to-government basis to continue to empower Indian nations, and to provide sufficient and meaningful resources to Indian tribes to bolster economic development and self-determination."

The platform also calls for restoration of tribal lands, strengthening tribal housing programs and declared that health care is a core federal trust responsibility.

According to the platform, Democrats also intend to build on the important provisions in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 and the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Democrats say they will increase engagement of tribal leaders by annually hosting a White House Tribal Nations Conference. And, they intend to strengthen the White House Council on Native American Affairs.

In addition to those specifics, in Philadelphia, the delegates encountered a party platform that was as diverse as the delegates themselves. The platform was formally presented and adopted during the convention with the blessing of both Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt. and Sec. Hillary Clinton.

In their party platform, Democrats declared: "... the platform process was the most representative and inclusive in history."

According to reports, many people contend that the final product is the most progressive (liberal) in the party's history. The platform largely reflects the influence of the platform committee members, appointed by Sanders, who proclaim they obtained at least 80 percent of their goals.

Among 95 political planks itemized in the platform, one is the Democrats support for raising the federal minimum wage to at least $15 an hour. They call for an expansion of the Affordable Care Act and the creation of community health centers that provide primary health-care services particularly in rural areas.

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