Politics: Biden visits with Navajo president, Trump Jr. hosts Native rally in Williams
WILLIAMS, Ariz. — As the 2020 general election nears and early voting begins, candidates are making one last attempt to garner as many votes as possible — including the Native vote.
On Oct. 8, U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden along with running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, visited with Arizona tribal leaders at the Heard Museum in Phoenix to discuss tribal priorities.
That same day, the Biden-Harris campaign released its Plan for Tribal Nations which states, “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are committed to upholding the U.S.’s trust responsibility to tribal nations, strengthening the Nation-to-Nation relationship between the United States and Indian tribes, and working to empower tribal nations to govern their own communities and make their own decisions.”
Tribal leaders in attendance included Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Hopi Tribal Chairman Timothy Nuvangyaoma, Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris, Jr., Gila River Indian Community Governor Stephen Roe Lewis, and San Carlos Apache Tribal Chairman Terry Rambler.
On Oct. 15, Donald Trump Jr. held a Native Americans for Trump rally in the small town of Williams, Arizona, located in northern Arizona. President Donald Trump had planned a campaign stop in Flagstaff, Arizona on Oct. 6, but contracted COVID-19 the same week he was scheduled to appear and canceled.
During the rally, Trump Jr. was introduced by Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer. Other Native leaders in attendance included Navajo Nation Council Delegate Rick Nez and former Arizona State Senate Carlyle Begay from Ganado, Arizona, among others.
Lizer has voiced his support of Trump and attended the Republican National Convention in August. He said he supported Trump because of Trump’s support for the nation of Israel and for the international relations and commerce he has established.
“We want to bring international commerce and industry and startups to the Navajo Nation. We have the land, we have the water, we have the workforce — skilled workforce that is willing to work hard,” Lizer said. “This COVID-19 has magnified a lot of the health disparities and a lot of the lack of economic development on the Navajo Nation… So that’s what we’re feverishly working for and we would appreciate if you all would get your family out to vote for four more years for Donald Trump and Vice President Michael Pence.”
Recently, Trump signed Savanna’s Act and Not Invisible Act into law to help address the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women crisis and on Aug. 13, one of seven offices around the country was opened in Phoenix to investigate cold cases involving missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives as part of the Operation Lady Justice Task Force — created via executive order by Trump.
During the Oct. 8 meeting between tribal leaders and Biden-Harris, Nez presented tribal priorities which included the need for federal partners to work with the Navajo Nation to move forward with infrastructure development projects to provide clean water, electricity, broadband and roads for the Navajo people.
“Early voting has begun and we urge everyone to cast a ballot and exercise their right to vote. We appreciate the Biden-Harris team’s invitation to tribal leaders and their commitment to meeting with us face-to-face to build and strengthen that relationship with tribes and the Navajo people. We encourage all Navajo people, living on and off the Navajo Nation, to let their voices be heard by voting in the upcoming Navajo Nation, state, and federal elections,” Nez said.