Question: Are you satisfied with the state of Native American affairs?
No. No. I . . . All my life I’ve felt that Native Americans have been the most neglected of all minorities in this country. And all my life I’ve fought for them as a congressman. This is what they want. They were stolen in their land. And it’s a shame that as a federal government, we were supposed to give them healthcare and education, and what is called “self-determination” – treat them as fully . . . fully elected governments, and we don’t do that. In fact we don’t keep our commitment for healthcare. We don’t keep our commitment for education. And as a result, the highest poverty rate, suicide rate, diabetes, alcoholism are on Indian reservations. I would change that as President. Eleven percent of my state is Native American. And I have elevated Native Americans to cabinet status, and we do everything we can to make for the federal shortfalls. But what I would do as President, I would elevate Native American affairs to a cabinet level. These are human beings. These are the first Americans, and we didn’t keep our promise to the first Americans. And this just means treating them equally. It doesn’t mean giving them special privileges. Today the highest rates of poverty, of . . . the highest rates of suicide – you go anywhere in this country – are in our reservations around . . . particularly in the west. Recorded on: 11/28/07