Biden’s First 100 Days: Impact on Indian Country

WASHINGTON – Much attention was paid to the first 100 days in office of the Biden administration on Thursday. When President Joe Biden was sworn in on January 20, 2021, he inherited several crises: the Covid-19 crisis, an economic crisis, a racial crisis, and a climate crisis.

There is no doubt that the new Biden administration has successfully vaccinated 220,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives against Covid-19. When Biden took over, there was no logistical plan in place to put the gunfire on the Americans. When Biden was sworn in, less than one percent of people over the age of 65 were fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Today, 100 days later, nearly 70 percent of older people are fully immunized.

Deb Haaland: First Native American Cabinet Secretary

halandVice President Kamala Harris is sworn in to Deb Haaland as Home Secretary.

For Indian Country, the selection of Home Secretary Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) to be the first Native American to serve as Secretary to the Cabinet was significant in the President’s demonstrated commitment to Indian Country.

31.2 billion dollars committed in the Indian country

One of the resounding successes of Biden’s first 100 days was the passage in March of the $ 1.9 trillion US bailout, with more than $ 31 billion going to the Indian country – the largest amount of funds federal never allocated to tribes and tribal organizations.

The White House Council on Native American Affairs

The first meeting of the White House Council on Native American Affairs met last Friday. The Council will coordinate with tribal nations as it advances work on key issues such as climate change, tribal lands and treaties; economic development, energy and infrastructure; health; education; public security and justice; and international indigenous issues.

Ten cabinet secretaries and other senior officials participated in discussions focused on strengthening nation-to-nation relationships, improving tribal consultation and formalizing Council working committees.

The Council was first established under President Obama, but became inactive under the Trump administration. Officials said the Interagency Council, which includes leaders from across the federal government, has not met regularly since 2016. It began in 2013 in response to a request from tribal chiefs.

Two percent of the Biden administration are Native Americans

Even as the Senate continues to confirm highly qualified candidates for the president, the White House Office of Presidential Personnel has hired nearly 1,500 presidential appointees to fill key positions in agencies that do not require confirmation from the Senate. Senate – double the number of people appointed by any previous administration by the 100-day mark.

Of the approximately 1,500 people appointed by the agency that President Biden has hired to date:

Two percent identify as Native American or Alaska Native.

In the US Department of the Interior, one in five (20%) of all appointees are American Indian or Alaska Native.

A sign of respect for the Indian country

For Sault Ste. Tribe Marie President Aaron Payment, the Biden administration quickly walked through the doors showing that Biden is keeping the promises he made during his presidential campaign.

“That’s more in 100 days than any other administration has accomplished in their tenure,” said Payment, who is also the first vice president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).

The president’s kept promises show his respect for Native Americans and Alaska Natives, said Kevin Allis, president of Washington, DC-based Thunderbird Strategic

“The signal so far from the Biden administration is a sign of respect for the Indian country, and that we are no longer going to be a second thought. From the appointment of Deb Haaland as Home Secretary to an honest relaunch of the White House Council on Native American Affairs, tribal nations across the country can be positive about how Indian countries’ issues will be. treated during this administration, ”Allis said.

The Deb Haaland effect

Home Secretary Haaland, who in her Senate confirmation hearing said she would fulfill Biden’s agenda as Home Office chief, has already put her fingerprints on correcting the damage caused by the Trump administration since he was sworn in on March 17.

On April 1, Haaland created the Missing & Murdered unit within the Home Office, established to investigate and resolve cases of missing and murdered indigenous women. Established within the Office of Indian Affairs of the Office of Justice Services (BIA-OJS), the MMU will help put the full weight of the federal government in the investigation of these cases, as well as distribute resources for maintaining the order in federal agencies and throughout the Indian country.

During his first official trip as Home Secretary, Haaland visited the Bears Ears National Monument and met with tribal leaders and community members to hear their contribution to the eventual full restoration of the destroyed national monuments. by Trump. She will make recommendations to the President in the coming weeks.

After assessing the Home Ministry’s relationship with the Indian country over the past four years, Haaland sought to correct the damage through orders from the secretary.

On April 16, Haaland created a climate working group to coordinate work within the Home Office, including accelerating the development of renewable energies and identifying actions to foster investment in energy communities through the through Secretary Order 3399. The ordinance also provides guidance on how science should be used in decision-making and improves transparency and public engagement.

One of the key elements of SO 3399 is the direction for the Home Office to engage with tribes to obtain their input through tribal consultations. The decree says, “Tribal consultation is one way to rectify this by recognizing the government-to-government relationship and considering tribal interests in decision-making.

Through Secretary’s Order 3400, Haaland on Tuesday removed restrictions put in place by the Trump administration last year to allow restoration of tribal homelands and reinstated policies that promote the federal government’s obligation to them. tribal nations.

The secretary’s order withdrew two Home Department attorney’s opinions issued last year without tribal consultation, which replaced a two-part process and interpretation of the meaning of “under federal jurisdiction” under the Indian Reorganization Act following the Carcieri v. Salazar with a new arduous four-part process.

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About the Author

Levi Rickert
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Levi Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Native News Online. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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