Biden seeks to strengthen consultation with Indian country

President BidenJoe BidenOvernight Energy & Environment – American Clean Power – Supreme Court to Consider Power Plant Regulation Case Harris Makes Final Argument for McAuliffe Overnight Health Care – Brought to you by Altria – Young Children Get A Little Closer to Vaccine MORE signed a memo on Tuesday asking agencies to explain how they plan to incorporate the needs of Native Americans into their decision-making, an early step to signal a sharp turnaround by the Trump administration.

The order directs each government agency to submit plans on how they can better consult with the 574 federally recognized tribes in the country.

“It is a priority of my administration to uphold tribal sovereignty and autonomy, the commitment to fulfill federal trust and treaty responsibilities to tribal nations, and regular, meaningful and robust consultation with tribal nations, cornerstones of federal Indian policy, ”Biden said. written in the memo.

“History shows that we serve Native Americans best when tribal governments are empowered to lead their communities, and when federal officials speak and listen to tribal leaders in formulating federal policy that affects tribal nations,” a- he added.

The order is not a big departure from current federal policy requiring consultation with tribes, but tribal leaders have complained for decades that they have been sidelined or silenced by federal agencies .

These complaints also surfaced during the Trump administration, with tribes laying charges that they had been ignored in many public land decisions as agencies sought to reduce the scope of national monuments on land considered sacred by tribes, including the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante monuments.

Tribes in Alaska and New Mexico also raised flags when the Home Office held virtual hearings with Native Americans during the height of the pandemic when assessing efforts to expand drilling. Although designed as a safety measure, studies have shown that Native Americans living on reservations were the least connected to high-speed internet.

“Doing this a week in office is really a testament to his commitment to the Indian country,” Nikki Pitre, executive director of the Center for Native American Youth and a member of the Coeur d’Alene tribe, told The Hill. “The Indian country really wants to be engaged and consulted and having the decree means we have it in writing now.”

If confirmed, Biden’s candidate representative. Deb HaalandDeb HaalandWhy Congress Should Investigate Residential School Crime and Abuse (DN.M.), will be the first Native American Secretary of the Interior and Cabinet official. The department oversees the Office of Indian Affairs and other agencies with responsibilities to tribes.

But Biden’s order will require consideration of tribal interests across all agencies, which Pitre hopes will help improve housing policy, education and more.

It could also help stimulate better health care planning, as some tribes have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus.

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