Message from the Chair
As I prepare to speak at the virtual 2021 White House Tribal Nations Summit next week, I can’t help but think of our Ancestors who brought us this far. Depending on which generation and how far you go back, the challenges were always there. Yet they got us through and prayed us into existence and here we are. Their strength and resiliency are always first and foremost in my mind when I prepare for these opportunities to speak our truth.
The panel I’m serving on next week is Tribal Treaty Rights and Sacred Lands. and includes Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack; EPA Administrator Michael Regan; Chairwoman Kat Brigham of Confederated Tribes of Umatilla, Oregon; President Kevin Killer of Oglala Sioux Tribe, South Dakota and Chief Kirk Francis of the Penobscot Nation in Maine. Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland asked that I speak on co-management, given the recent return of the Bison Range and the previous agreement between CSKT and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Other policy panels on November 15-16 will include the following sessions: Combating COVID-19; Native American Education and Native Languages; Public Safety and Justice; Climate Change Impacts and Solutions; Economic and Workforce Development; Infrastructure, Housing and Energy; and a Listening Session with Federal Officials.
According to the notice, “President Biden and the Administration look forward to hosting a robust and meaningful dialogue with Tribal leaders on key issues, policy initiatives, and goals for Indian Country. This year they have changed the name from a conference to a summit to reflect the federal government’s Nation-to-Nation relationship with Tribal Nations. The Biden-Harris Administration is deeply committed to honoring their trust and treaty responsibilities to federally recognized Tribal Nations and the Summit provides an opportunity for Tribal leaders to engage directly with officials from the highest levels of the Administration.”
Previously the conference was a smaller, in-person event initiated by President Barack Obama which took place during all eight years of his administration. It was noticeably absent in the last Administration, as was the White House Council on Native American Affairs. President Biden revived this opportunity in a virtual setting for the leaders from all 574 federally recognized Tribal Nations.
~Wish me luck~