Democrats talk Indigenous issues at Thursday forum

Montana’s Native American population needs better representation in Congress, say Democratic candidates for the state’s eastern U.S. House District.

The Eastern District has 5 reservations with a 6th likely before the next Congress ends. Two out of 11 candidates running for U.S. House participated in this Zoom event.

Democrats Penny Ronning, a former Billings City Council member, and state legislator Mark Sweeney addressed several issues during an hour-long forum livestreamed by Western Native Voice. The nonpartisan group promotes voter engagement and self determination on Montana’s seven Indian reservations.

Thursday was the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Both candidates have worked on MMIW issues. Ronning is a founder of the Yellowstone County Human Trafficking Task Force. Sweeney served in the Montana Legislature during the past two sessions as lawmakers advanced bills dealing the MMIW crisis.

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Moderator Chase Comes At Night reminded the candidates that 60% of Montana’s missing people are Indigenous and asked each what they would do to bring more of these people home safe and reduce the number of people missing.

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