Senator Bernie Sanders mentions Native Americans at campaign stop at Grand Valley State University. Native News Online photos by Levi Rickert
Published March 5, 2016
ALLENDALE, MICHIGAN — Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders made a stop at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, which is west of Grand Rapids. Sanders was greeted by some 5,000 enthusiastic supporters, many of whom chanted “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie,” prior to his arrival.
There was a sort of irony that Sanders made his campaign stop at Grand Valley State University because the county where the university is located votes Republican in presidential elections. In 2012, Mitt Romney captured 66 percent of the vote there.
Senator Sanders came to Michigan to campaign prior to Michigan’s primary election that will be held on this coming Tuesday. There are 147 delegates at stake on the Democratic party side in Tuesday’s election.
Integrated into the 74-year-old candidate’s stump speech was a portion devoted to the mistreatment of Native Americans, who Sanders referred to as this country’s “first peoples.” Earlier this week, Sanders met with tribal leaders in Minnesota and Kansas on campaign stops to those states.
“He brought tears to my eyes. No candidate ever mentions us in their campaign speeches,” commented Belinda Bardwell, a former tribal councilor of the Little Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and current masters of public administration student at Grand Valley State University.
There were several other American Indians in the large crowd that included many students.
“I am voting for Bernie. He is the best and most ‘sane’ person in this campaign this year,” said Anige Abraham (Cherokee), who brought her 14-year-old daughter, who is a member of the Keeweenaw Bay Indian Community, based in Baraga, Michigan.
On Sunday, Senator Sanders will square off with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, his formidable opponent for the Democratic party’s nomination for president.