PHOENIX (3TV/CBS5) -- In a word, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez felt "energized" after meeting with the Biden-Harris campaign on Thursday afternoon. Nez was one of a handful of tribal leaders who got the chance to be heard by the Democratic presidential candidates. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris made a campaign stop in Arizona on Thursday, which included a trip to the Heard Museum. It was the same day Vice President Mike Pence also visited the Valley, holding a campaign rally in Peoria.

While it was a brief meeting, President Nez says it was a chance to share the priorities of the Navajo Nation and the more than 500 Native American tribes across the country. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed challenges on the nation, Nez said.  "You know, it's ridiculous that you have 30% to 40% of the Navajo people without running water or electricity," Nez told Arizona's Family. "This is happening in the most powerful country in the world. That shouldn't be the case in the 21st century."

Infrastructure, health care funding and access to the Internet are other important issues for President Nez. He thinks it's time for Native Americans to have a seat at the table and says it was an honor to be part of the discussion with Biden and Harris. Nez was also in a leadership position under Former President Barack Obama. 

"From their administration to this current administration, it's just total night and day," Nez said. "You know when Obama, Biden were in office we were able to have direct access to leadership there at the White House." 

Nez says the candidates got the chance to see a special memorial for veterans outside of the museum, adding that Native American communities have contributed greatly to the United States Armed Forces.  

"We have always kept our promise through these treaties that we would always back up the federal government, all the way to today," he said. "But in return there have been so many broken promises."

Arizona's Family asked Nez what other issues would he have liked to talk about. He wants to know what the plan is going forward in the fight against coronavirus because it doesn't appear to be going away. "Here on the Navajo Nation a couple of weeks ago we saw some spikes happening," Nez said. "And there are spikes happening in the majority of the states throughout the country. So what are the future plans of this country?"

Biden and Harris released a plan for tribal nations today. President Nez says they got to give some input in drafting some of the policies. Read more here

 

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