Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
April 20, 2021
Peace. Justice. Strong institutions. The three-part theme of this year’s session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues embodies the deep aspirations of indigenous people around the world. From creating safe communities, to meeting sanitation and health care needs. From protecting indigenous women and girls, to protecting the remains of ancestors and sacred objects. We need to do everything we can to help indigenous people advocate for themselves and their constituents. They want peace. They deserve justice. And we must strengthen the institutions that provide both. That’s especially true at a moment when these communities are facing outsized hardships from climate change and COVID-19.
As frequent stewards of the natural environment, indigenous people have long recognized the delicate balance between humans and nature. Now, they are under threat from the very same disruptions to the equilibrium they so often work to restore. That’s why President Biden announced last week that four billion U.S. dollars from the American Rescue Plan will go toward combating COVID-19 in Indian Country. That means more vaccinations, more testing and treatment sites, more preventive health care service for American Indians and Alaska natives at higher risk for COVID-19.
These actions are proof-positive of President Biden’s clear commitment to increased dialogue and partnership with U.S. tribal leaders. As is the fact that Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland made history on Monday, as the highest-ranking Native American U.S. government official to ever address this forum.
Our renewed commitments to indigenous people extend beyond our borders. The United States will continue to actively engage in UN bodies which consider the many issues directly affecting indigenous people. We will proactively reach out to institutions representing indigenous people, seek their input, and advocate for them throughout the UN system. And that’s what it means to build strong institutions. And that’s how we plan to help deliver peace and justice to indigenous people around the world.
Thank you very much.