US President Joe Biden announces increased Indigenous spending | Indigenous Rights News
President Joe Biden has announced plans to improve consultation and increase spending Native issues in the United States as part of its commitment to “prioritize and respect nation-to-nation relationships.”
In a speech Wednesday at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., at the White House’s first in-person Tribal Nations Summit in six years, Biden highlighted the effects of climate change on Indigenous populations.
“As you all know, there are tribal communities at risk of being swept away — swept away by superstorms, rising sea levels and raging wildfires,” Biden said, recalling his visits. in areas ravaged by fires and storms.
“That is why I am announcing today [a] $135 million pledge to help 11 tribal communities in Maine, Louisiana, Arizona, Washington and Alaska relocate, in some cases, their entire communities to land safer.
Biden also announced that he would ask Congress to allocate $9.1 billion in mandatory funding to Indian Health Services, a federal agency responsible for providing health care to federally recognized Native American tribes and Native peoples of Alaska.
There are 574 federal recognitions Native tribes in the United States and many are “more vulnerable to the health effects of climate change than the general population”, warns the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA cites unreliable infrastructure, institutional barriers like limited access to resources and traditional territory, and higher rates of certain medical conditions such as asthma increasing the vulnerability of Indigenous groups.
A 2020 report from the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs highlighted “a significant unmet need for financial resources” as Indigenous communities prepare for the effects of climate change.
It projected that resettlement costs would total up to $3.45 billion for Native communities in Alaska and $1.365 billion for Native communities in the contiguous United States over the next 50 years.
During the summit, Biden touted his administration’s record of funding tribal communities, pointing to $32 billion in the US bailout and $13 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act reserved for Aboriginals.
In his speech, Biden laid out a vision that included safer drinking water, more affordable internet, and restoring waterways and ecosystems.
He pointed to a project on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, where federal infrastructure spending will fund repairs to two dams – Oglala Dam and Allen Dam – that are considered a hazard to human security.
“For years and years now, the tribes have lived in the shadow of disaster, fearful that the dams will burst and destroy their communities,” Biden said. “So they will soon be able to sleep a much more peaceful night knowing that these dams have been fully repaired.”
In addition to the proposed spending, Biden also announced on Wednesday that he had signed a new presidential memorandum to improve consultation. between the federal government and the tribal nations.
The memorandum requires federal agencies to clearly communicate the timelines and context of each consultation and maintain public records about them. It also requires that all relevant federal agencies receive annual training on the tribal consultation process.
“Federal agencies should strive for consensus among tribes,” Biden said, describing it as “a whole modified approach.”
“Under my leadership, we are ushering in a new era and advancing a way for the federal government to work with tribal nations,” he told the audience. “And that starts with appointing Native Americans to lead the front lines of my administration.”
Biden’s remarks were introduced by Home Secretary Deb Haalanda member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe and the first native person to be appointed Cabinet Secretary.
She is one of many historic appointments under the Biden administration, including the appointment of Lynn Malerba of the Mohegan Tribe as the first Native American Treasurer earlier this year.
Biden also expressed his commitment to protecting Avi Kwa Ame, the Mojave name for an area at the southern tip of Nevada known as Spirit Mountain.
A white granite peak rising above a rugged desert landscape of canyons and rock formations, Avi Kwa Ame is considered the spiritual birthplace of 10 Yuman-speaking tribes.
“As to Spirit Mountain and the surrounding ridges and canyons in southern Nevada, I am committed to protecting this sacred place that is central to the creation story of so many tribes who are here today” , Biden said.
Currently, 13,564 hectares (33,518 acres) of the area is designated as federal wilderness.
A coalition of Native tribes, environmental groups and Nevada lawmakers are pushing for approximately 182,100 hectares (450,000 acres) to be named a national monumentprotected from development.