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WASHINGTON — A photograph taken of Senator Bernie Sanders (D—VT) on Inauguration Day by Brendan Smialowski, a former sports photojournalist from Connecticut who documents politics for wire service Agence France-Presse, has taken over social media with what some estimate more than 100,000 memes. 

On a day presumed to be entirely about the inauguration President Joseph Biden, it undoubtedly—it seemed—belonged to Mr. Sanders, whose most avid supporters came from young voters during the presidential race. He didn’t do anything out the ordinary; he attended the socially-distanced Inauguration with his arms and legs crossed while wearing mittens and a bulky winter coat.  

There is pretty much a Bernie meme out there for every taste, view, and scene including many in Indian Country. Bernie outside a sweat lodge. Bernie sitting beside a powwow drum. Bernie at Mato Tipila—Devil’s Tower—with the infamous buffalo who gouged a tourist in the Black Hills last summer. Bernie with Nathan Apodaca. Bernie at the Black Hills Powwow. Bernie inside the South Dakota State Capital chambers. It doesn’t matter where he is, the overall consensus is it’s just funny. 

Bernie at Mato Tipila—Devil’s Tower—with the infamous buffalo who gouged a tourist in the Black Hills last summer

Whitney Rencountre, administrator of the Social Distance Powwow Facebook page and graphic designer made a few memes himself. “Laughter is medicine,” said Whitney Rencountre to Native News Online. 

Rencountre quickly shared his memes to the popular Facebook group and they were well loved, shared, and laughed at. “Everyone seemed to love the memes,” said Rencountre.

South Dakota State Senator Red Dawn Foster, a citizen of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, had a comment to make on her appearance in a meme of her dressed in full regalia while being sworn in the South Dakota State Capital chambers. “I think the world is finally getting Indian humor,” said State Senator Red Dawn Foster to Native News Online. 

In case you’re wondering, his mittens are sold out. 

Jen Ellis, the artist behind Bernie’s mittens, wrote on Twitter. "I'm so flattered that Bernie wore them to the inauguration. Sadly, I have no more mittens for sale. There are a lot of great crafters on ETSY who make them."

Bernie attends a powwow.

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About The Author
Author: Darren Thompson
Darren Thompson (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) is a freelance journalist and based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, where he also contributes to Unicorn Riot, an alternative media publication. Thompson has reported on political unrest, tribal sovereignty, and Indigenous issues for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Indian Country Today, Native News Online, Powwows.com and Unicorn Riot. He has contributed to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Voice of America on various Indigenous issues in international conversation. He has a bachelor’s degree in Criminology & Law Studies from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.