Presidential Candidate Julian Castro Has the First Plan to address disparities faced by Native and Indigenous communities

Photo Credit: Lorie Shaull

Presidential Candidate Julian Castro released his People’s First Indigenous Community Policy on Thursday. With previous experience as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama, Castro has visited and worked with Indigenous communities and tribal nations across the country. 

 In a statement, Castro said,  “For generations, Indigenous communities have been treated as second-class citizens rather than sovereign tribal nations free to determine their destiny. The federal government has repeatedly failed to honor treaty obligations, respect unique government-to-government relationships, and allowed corporations to exploit sacred land for their own profits.” 

Castro’s plan aims to address some of the major disparities native and indigenous communities face in economic opportunity, education, and health. 

The plan lays the groundwork for creating a White House Council on Indigenous Community Affairs to give indigenous communities a bigger platform and greater representation in the federal government. 

Other provisions of the plan include additional funding for health care, expanding educational opportunities in tribal communities, and a commitment to honor and strengthen treaty obligations and cultural sovereignty. 

Castro’s proposal also intends to prioritize the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) and is in support of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Castro wants to roll back President Trump’s decision to change definitions of domestic violence and sexual assault. 

Castro wrote in a Medium article on Thursday, “We deserve a president who will strengthen tribal sovereignty, honor treaty commitments, ensure justice for Indigenous women, and advance tribal-federal partnerships for progress.” Our current President has done nothing in his administration to promote justice or respect for native communities. In fact, our current administration resurrected the Keystone pipeline, even while the new Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock was leaking. President Trump’s lack of sensitivity and respect was also made clear when he repeatedly referred to Elizabeth Warren as “Pochahontas.” And with the upcoming elections, we have many candidates who are embracing this moment as an opportunity to argue for a vision where the traditionally marginalized are included and given a voice and representation. 

Castro is the only candidate thus far who has released a policy specifically for and about indigenous peoples. Castro’s My People First Indigenous Communities platform lays out a plan to ensure all native people and communities can thrive in the future. Besides Castro, the only other candidate who has spoken of Native American justice is Marrian Williamson. On her campaign website, she expresses support for returning dominant control of Black Hills of South Dakota to the Sioux Nation, halting construction of the Keystone pipeline, and protecting tribal sovereignty and religious freedom.

Given what’s currently going on at Mt. Maunakea, Castro’s policy plan lays out a blueprint for creating systemic change: Instead of perpetuating a history of exploiting sacred land, we consult and seek permission from indigenous people and the projects affecting their communities.