Deputy Representative for Economic and Social Affairs
New York, New York
April 19, 2023
Thank you, Madam chair.
For centuries, Indigenous Peoples in the United States were forcibly removed from ancestral lands, displaced, assimilated, and banned from worshipping or performing sacred ceremonies. Despite these injustices, they have chosen to serve in the United States Armed Forces at a higher rate than any other group and remain some of our greatest environmental stewards today.
This is just one example of how native peoples challenge us to confront our past, encourage us to do better, and make important contributions to scholarship, law, the arts, and public service, to enrich our diverse country.
The Biden-Harris Administration has prioritized relationships with Tribal Nations built on respect for Tribal sovereignty and self-governance, honoring federal trust and treaty responsibilities, protecting Tribal homelands, and conducting regular, meaningful, and robust consultation.
President Biden has also advanced an economic agenda that includes historic levels of funding specifically for Tribal communities and Native people, including $32 billion in the American Rescue Plan, $13 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and $700 million in the Inflation Reduction Act.
Last fall, President Biden gathered Tribal leaders in Washington at the Department of the Interior for the Tribal Nations Summit to help foster Nation-to-Nation relationships and provide Tribal leaders with an opportunity to engage directly with senior Administration officials.
We have also prioritized addressing environmental injustices, protecting the environment and human health, and responsibly conserving the lands and waters that sustain us.
And the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to improving public safety and justice in Tribal Communities.
[Last year, we announced the re-acquisition of 465 acres at Fones Cliff, a sacred site on the east coast of Virginia, which was then donated to the Rappahannock Tribe. We also established a historic co-management agreement between the Department of the Interior and the five Tribes of Bears Ears National Monument. The monument is a culturally rich and recreationally diverse region comprising nearly 1.4 million acres that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
Additionally, last summer, the Department of the Interior announced the successful transfer of fish production and staffing at Dworshak National Fish Hatchery to the Nez Perce Tribe in the state of Idaho. Since 2005, the hatchery has been jointly managed by the Department and the Tribe. Each year, it produces millions of steelhead, spring Chinook, and coho salmon – fish that are culturally significant to many Tribes.]
Finally, I would like to note that the White House Council on Native American Affairs Education Committee is releasing a draft 10-year National Plan on Native Language Revitalization to preserve and protect native languages. The Administration has been consulting with Tribal Nations on the draft and is finalizing the plan in 2023.
The list of U.S. initiatives goes on, but I will stop here. We are here primarily to listen.
We look forward to this continued dialogue so that the United States can continue to learn from those assembled here today.