Chair Grijalva Applauds New Biden Administration Initiatives Announced at White House Tribal Nations Summit

Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today commended the Biden administration for several new initiatives that will help strengthen the federal government’s relationship with tribal nations and advance equity for Indigenous Peoples in the United States. The new efforts were announced during the White House Tribal Nations Summit, which took place Monday and Tuesday of this week. 

The summit was the first formal convening of tribal leaders and agency officials hosted by the White House since 2016. The Obama administration established the summit as an annual event starting in 2008, but the Trump administration discontinued it for four years.  

The initiatives announced at the summit add to the already widely celebrated decisions by the Biden administration to place a 20-year moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on public lands surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park and to issue an executive order addressing the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) crisis.  

The newly announced initiatives include: 

  • A multi-agency agreement between the departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and the Interior (DOI) to establish a Native Language Working Group that will collaborate on programming, resource development, and policies related to the preservation of Native American languages. 
  • A joint initiative between DOI and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish the Tribal Homelands Initiative, which will strengthen the role of tribal communities in co-stewardship with the federal government of public lands. 
  • A formal commitment by DOI and 16 other federal agencies to protect tribal treaty rights in agency policymaking and regulatory processes. 
  • memo from the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy and the Council on Environmental Quality to all federal department and agency heads establishing the role of Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge in informing federal decision-making. 

“This week’s Tribal Nations Summit and the new efforts announced by President Biden mark the start of a new day for the federal government’s relationship with Indian Country,” Grijalva said. “The Biden administration is taking real, concrete steps forward, rather than just paying the lip service of the past. I am more and more optimistic that this nation’s dark history of ignoring, silencing, and suppressing the voices of Indigenous Peoples will one day be far behind us.” 

The initiatives announced at the White House Tribal Nations Summit build on many of the Committee on Natural Resources oversight and legislative efforts that have taken place under the leadership of Chair Grijalva. For more information about the Committee’s work in the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States, please visit us here.

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