Even by Elizabeth Warren's high standards, her plan for "honoring and empowering tribal nations and indigenous peoples is detailed, ambitious, and important.
Warren's plan is a top-to-bottom reimagining of how the US relates to indigenous peoples: American Indians, Alaska natives and native Hawaiians, from broadband plans to criminal justice reform to nation-to-nation treaty negotiations to finance reform to curriculum reform and much, much more.
From creating a permanent, cabinet-level post for nation-to-nation negotiating with indigenous peoples to addressing the systematic problems that gives rise to the epidemic of missing and murdered native women to making budget allocations for indigenous peoples automatic and nondiscretionary, Warren's plan is thoughtful and bold.
The plan covers physical and mental health provision, addiction treatment, community health for chronic disease, physical infrastructure improvements (including broadband provision), free postsecondary education, and a program of reparations for broken treaty promises and centuries of abuse.
A cynic might say that Warren's attention to this issue is a savvy way to head off cheap "Pocahontas" jokes, but a better explanation is:
1. This is totally in keeping with Warren's other plans in its seriousness and its commitment to fundamental justice;
2. The issue of reparations and justice for indigenous American peoples is urgent and long overdue;
3. To the extent that Warren's belief in her indigenous ancestry plays a role here, it is in that it makes the issue of these injustices personal and serious for her.
I am a donor to both Elizabeth Warren's and Bernie Sanders's campaigns.
There is so much more we should do — from leveraging our trade deals to improve indigenous human rights abroad to living up to the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to consulting with tribal officials to better repatriate artifacts that rightfully belong to tribes. Structural change means truly integrating indigenous voices and values into our policy decisions.
I believe we are at a critical moment in our history. A moment when we must choose to stand together, to lift each other up, to take on each other’s fights as our own, and to make the kind of change that will build a better future for all of our kids. If we are to achieve this, then we must stand united with Tribal Nations and indigenous peoples to ensure that Native voices are heard and their rights are respected. With real commitment, and with real structural change, we can write a new story.
Honoring and Empowering Tribal Nations and Indigenous Peoples [Elizabeth Warren/Medium]