Biden pledges new commitments, respect for tribal nations
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday pledged to give Native Americans a stronger voice in federal affairs, promising at the first in-person summit on tribal affairs in six years that he will bolster tribal consultations, inclusion of Indigenous knowledge in decision-making and funding for communities struggling with the impacts of climate change.
Biden spoke on the opening day of the two-day White House Tribal Nations Summit to representatives from hundreds of Native American and Alaska Native tribes, reiterating and announcing a series of new commitments. The summit coincides with National Native American Heritage Month, which is celebrated in November.
The Biden administration said its goal is to build on previous progress and create opportunities for lasting change in Indian Country, which isn't guaranteed without codified laws and regulations.
“Administrations can bring in their priorities, but they shouldn’t be telling us who have lived here since the beginning of time how to manage our resources, which resources we can even access,” said Richard Peterson, president of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. “These are things that are inherent in our sovereignty.”
Among the pledges from the Biden administration is to establish uniform standards for federal agencies to consult with tribes and go beyond a “check the box” exercise, finalize a 10-year plan to revitalize Native languages and strengthen tribal rights like hunting and fishing that are outlined in existing treaties.
Biden also said he intends to designate Avi Kwa Ame, a desert mountain near Laughlin, Nevada, that's considered sacred to Native Americans, as a new national monument. Last year, he restored the boundaries for Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.
On climate change,...