Welcome to FCNL’s Native American Legislative Update! NALU is a monthly newsletter about FCNL’s Native American policy advocacy and ways for you to engage members of Congress.
President Biden Revives White House Tribal Nations Summit
On Nov. 15-16, for the first time since 2016, the White House hosted the Tribal Nations Summit. Top Biden administration officials spoke with tribal leaders to discuss the progress of administration efforts with tribal nations. They also announced new actions and commitments to build a new era of nation-to-nation engagement with tribes.
“These efforts are a matter of dignity. That’s the foundation of our nation-to-nation partnership. That’s what this summit is all about,” said President Joe Biden. The new initiatives included:
- An executive order to address the crisis of Missing or Murdered Indigenous People. The order would develop an interagency law enforcement strategy, establish multi-agency coordination of data collection, sharing, and analysis, and support victim and survivor services.
- A Tribal Treaty Rights Memorandum of Understanding. Seventeen federal departments and agencies commit to protecting tribal treaty rights in their policy processes.
- An order from the Interior and Agriculture department secretaries to increase tribal participation in the management and stewardship of federal lands.
- An Indigenous Knowledge Statement, and the establishment of an interagency working group to incorporate traditional ecological knowledge into the federal government’s decision-making and its approach to fighting climate change.
- The protection of a ten-mile radius of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico from future oil and gas drilling and leasing.
Secretary Deb Haaland also announced the establishment of the first Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee to continue dialogue between tribal nations and the Interior department.
Many tribal leaders acknowledged the unprecedented efforts of the Biden administration to work with tribes. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said, “This is the first time in my lifetime that I see the Navajo Nation having a seat at the table at the White House, with cabinet members of the administration, and they are listening, and the commitment is there in support of the Navajo people, and we appreciate that from this administration.”
Senate Confirms First Native to Lead National Park Service
On Nov. 18, the Senate unanimously confirmed the nomination of Charles “Chuck” Sams as National Park Service director. Sams is a citizen of the Cayuse and Walla Walla of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. He is the first Native American to lead the National Park Service.
“Chuck is a role model in the stewardship of American land and waters, wildlife and history,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (OR). “And now thanks to the Senate’s unanimous decision to confirm his nomination, Congress and park-goers will have someone steady and experienced to rely on in the years ahead.”
On Nov. 1, the House passed a number of bills supporting tribal nations, including: