The Navajo Nation is the largest group of indigenous Americans in the United States, but they haven’t always been valued as political allies. The 2016 presidential election is changing that. As Secretary Hillary Clinton’s campaign begins to focus on swing states once thought out of reach of the Democratic party, she and her staffers are looking to the Navajo for potential votes.

 

Hillary’s staffers have worked with Russell Begaye, president of the Navajo Nation, and recently secured his personal endorsement. Begaye endorsed Bernie Sanders during the primary. Sanders reached out to several Native American leaders during his campaign trail, but has recently worked in Arizona to convert his supporters to Hillary’s side. High-profile surrogate Michelle Obama has also been campaigning in the area. The campaign has organized town hall events and localized community gatherings in multiple sites across Arizona to discuss Hillary’s ideas for improving the Indian Health Service (IHS), the federal agency that provides health care services to Native Americans.

 

Getting out the vote is traditionally seen as difficult in rural Native American territory. With roughly 25%of Arizona’s land dedicated to reservations or controlled by Native American tribal groups, it can take hours to reach an official voting location. Clinton’s campaign team has worked with Navajo Nation leaders to encourage Native Americans to make the journey on November 8. With recent polls showing Clinton and her competitor Donald Trump only a few percentage points away from each other, the 100,000 members of the Navajo Nation could make the difference in the election and establish themselves as an important political ally for future candidates.

Categories: Indigenous Americans, Navajo Nation

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