Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is speaking at events across South Dakota ahead of the June 7th primary.
He started with a community discussion in Pine Ridge where he spoke about issues of concern on the reservation and called on audience members to share their experiences.
Hundreds gathered in the gym of Pine Ridge School as Sanders took the stage.
He called on the audience, asking about their health care system and economy on the reservations. He asked if young people would benefit from free college saying he wants a sense of how they feel about their future.
“So what I want to tell the young people here, is I believe that if any young kid, weather it’s in South Dakota or Vermont or any place else, studies hard and does well in school, regardless of the income of that family, that child should be able to get into college,” says Sanders.
Some young audience members were in favor of Sander’s ideas, including fourteen-year-old Ty.
“It was awesome. I liked the part when he said he’s going to try to make all college tuition free. Then I would definitely try to make it to a big college,” says Ty.
Some audience members though were skeptical of Sander’s ideas.
Hill “I think they’re very aspirational.”
Peter Hill is from Thunder Valley’s Lakota Language Initiative in the emergent daycare.
“And I don’t say that as necessarily a critique of it. I followed Obama very closely in '08 and I had very lofty ideals. And I think in the eight years since the election, we haven’t reached all those ideals. I don’t think that 100 percent of what he promised is given the political realties that he’s going to be able to fulfill. But I do like that fact that he would really, if elected, move things in that direction,” says Hill.
Along with the prospect of free college tuition, candidate Bernie Sanders says that if elected, the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs would come to Pine Ridge. He told the crowd he would work to boost the economy to prevent crime and improve the health care system.
In the afternoon Sanders traveled to Rapid City where he spoke to a large crowd in Memorial Park.
He says the president alone can’t make changes in this country. Instead, Sanders says the necessary changes in the United States must come from a grassroots movement of the people.
“Because at the end of the day while Wall Street and corporate America have endless supplies of money, if millions of people stand together not let the Trumps of the world divide us up, if we stand together and are prepared to fight for the America that we know we can become, there is no force on earth that can stop us,” says Sanders.
Sanders championed issues including universal health care, a boost in the minimum wage, and a new approach to climate change. He is making three stops in South Dakota, including Pine Ridge, Rapid City and Sioux Falls. Bill Clinton is also scheduled to speak in Sioux Falls later this month.
You can hear Bernie Sanders entire Rapid City speech by clicking play below.
After stops in Pine Ridge and Rapid City Sanders ended his South Dakota visit in Sioux Falls Thursday night.
In his speech addressing a crowd of supporters, Sanders says he believes the environment is in crisis. His reform plan includes putting a tax on carbon emissions and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
“But what we also do is put 41 billion dollars into making sure any worker in this country who is dislocated as a result of the transition from fossil fuel, to energy efficiency sustainable energy gets the kind of new jobs that are out there – gets the kind of health care that he needs.”
Sanders says he believes all excavation and transportation of fossil fuels needs to be stopped to protect further environmental damage.
About 4,300 people attended Sander's Sioux Falls speech.