Bernie Sanders visited the Oglala Lakota Native American Reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota on Thursday to address the growing poverty, inadequate healthcare and schools in the area and the country. Talking to the community, he said,
“We’ve got a lot of work to do but nothing ever good happens if people give up. You’ve got to stand up and be involved in the political process. The reason we are here today is to try to understand what is going on in Pine Ridge and other reservations. There are a lot of problems here. Poverty is much too high. There are not enough decent jobs in the area. The health care system is inadequate. And we need to fundamentally change the relationship between the U.S. government and the Native American community.”
This particular Native Indian reservation covers three counties that are some of the most impoverished out of the entire United States, with about 49% of Pine Ridge residents living below the federal poverty line. That includes 61% of people under 18 as well, with a per capita annual income at only $6,286. What’s worse is that the infant mortality rate is at five times higher than the national average, with life expectancy at only around 52 years-old for women and around 48 years-old for men. To make matters worse, the high school dropout-rate is at 70% and the teacher turnover rate being at a whopping eight times the national average.
These should concern anyone, as Sanders admits, and it’s clear he’s trying to reach out to the most impoverished of America to vote in their best interest. These are the types of people that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have never spoken to, in contrast.
Bernie also told Pine Ridge that he was looking to create a federal jobs program in which to help put millions of people back to work, as he’s already introduced legislation to create 13 million decent paying jobs. The legislation calls for a $1 trillion dollar investment which would go to worker’s salaries and the repairing of crumbling infrastructure such as bridges, roads, schools, and other government buildings. He included a federal minimum wage increase, of course, as it’s part of his $15/hr platform stance.