The United States must deal with the impact of the past on Native Americans

Vice President Kamala Harris said on Tuesday that the Europeans who colonized the United States “unleashed a wave of devastation for tribal nations, perpetrating violence, stealing land and spreading disease.”

Speaking virtually at the 78th Annual National Congress of American Indians, Harris said the United States “must not shy away from this shameful past, and we must bring it to light and do whatever we can to do dealing with the impact of the past” on Native Americans today. .


What do you want to know

  • Vice President Kamala Harris said on Tuesday that the United States “must not shy away from this shameful past, and we must bring it to light and do everything in our power to deal with the impact of the past.” on Native Americans today.
  • Harris made the remarks while speaking virtually at the 78th Annual National Congress of American Indians
  • The vice president announced that the Biden administration is reopening a 2017 memorandum of understanding for the 477 program, which aims to allow tribes to consolidate federal jobs and training grants into a single plan, budget and reporting system.
  • Harris said too many Native Americans are poor, unemployed and unable to find quality health care and affordable housing and that Biden’s agenda seeks to invest in Native Americans.

The Biden administration is notably seeking to make amends by revisiting a Trump-era action as it attempts to give Native American tribes a greater voice in federally funded jobs and skills training initiatives.

Harris announced that the administration is reopening a 2017 memorandum of understanding for the 477 program. The program is intended to allow federally recognized tribes and Alaska Native entities to bundle federal employment grants and to training in one plan, budget and reporting system.

The law was changed in 2017, but the tribes were not consulted and only learned of the memorandum after 12 federal agencies had already signed it, apparently violating a 2000 executive order signed by the president of at the time, Bill Clinton.

The Biden administration now says it will reopen the memorandum and seek input from tribal leaders.

“I know this is an action that many of you have asked for, and I am optimistic that together we can renegotiate this agreement to support tribal sovereignty,” Harris said, speaking the day after the Day. of indigenous peoples.

The 477 program, for example, allowed the Citizen Potawatomi Nation to create a pool of loans to create small businesses that employ tribal members. And the Bristol Bay Native Association used its 477 plan to help a tribal member who was on welfare become an independent childcare provider by offering training in childcare and home management. ‘business.

“This program empowers tribes to make decisions about how best to integrate and deliver federal services within your nations,” Harris said, delivering his South Court remarks on the White House complex. .

Harris said too many Native Americans are poor, unemployed and unable to find quality health care and affordable housing. She said Biden’s agenda was to invest in Native Americans.

“This continuing inequality, this continuing injustice is not right,” the vice president said. “And the pandemic has only made things worse. I firmly believe that we now have a chance to change things, to improve things.

Harris said Biden’s infrastructure plan would earmark funds for tribal bridge projects and transportation programs, and bring high-speed internet to communities in need. She also said the bill would create millions of “good union jobs.”

The president’s Build Back Better plan would help Native American families by reducing the cost of child and elder care, as well as health care and housing costs, Harris said. It would also extend expanded child tax credits, she added.

“Our Infrastructure and Jobs Act and our Build Back Better program represent the biggest investment in Indian Country in our history,” the Vice President said. “More than a point of pride, it is a sign of our administration’s respect for our nation-to-nation relationship.”

Both bills are currently still pending in Congress, with the Build Back Better legislation the subject of Democratic wrangling over its scope and price. The infrastructure legislation has been approved by the Senate and awaits a vote in the House.

Nohemi M. Moore