Good morning, NUNAverse:
President Biden signed a memo yesterday directing agencies to chart out how they plan to incorporate Native needs into their decision making. The order directs each government agency to turn over plans for how they can better consult with the nation’s 574 federally recognized tribes.
“It is a priority of my administration to make respect for Tribal sovereignty and self-governance, commitment to fulfilling federal trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribal Nations, and regular, meaningful, and robust consultation with Tribal Nations cornerstones of Federal Indian policy,” Biden wrote in the memo.
Following the Biden Administration’s 60-day suspension of new drilling permits for federal lands and water, the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, who depend on oil production, issued a strongly worded letter to Scott de la Vega, acting Interior secretary, to amend the order to allow drilling permits and approvals on Native land. As a result, the Biden Administration issued a correction, clarifying that energy development on the Ute Indian Tribe’s Uintah and Ouray Reservation will continue without being subject to the newly imposed restrictions.
The U.S Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a ruling yesterday upholding a federal court’s decision that revoked a key permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline, and required a more extensive environmental study. The ruling does not require the pipeline to shut down or be emptied of oil.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Biden Seeks To Bolster Consultation With Indian Country
The Hill, Rebecca Beitsch, January 26
President Biden on Tuesday signed a memo directing agencies to chart out how they plan to incorporate Native American needs into their decision making, an early move to signal a sharp reversal from the Trump administration.
Joe Biden Adds Several Native Americans To Administration
Native News Online, Jenna Kunze, January 26
In his first week in office, President Joe Biden appointed three Indigenous members to his roster, including attorneys Robert Anderson (Boise Forte Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe) and Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes (Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska) to the Interior Department, and Wahleah Johns (Navajo) to head the U.S. Office of Indian Energy Programs and Policy. The Interior Department, slated to be led by first Native American cabinet member and New Mexico Congressman Deb Haaland, announced the bids on Jan. 20, the day Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took office.
Biden Makes Good On His Promises To Indian Country
Native News Online, Aaron Payment, January 26
The Biden-Harris Campaign had an unprecedented outreach to Indian Country which made the difference in key battle ground states to retain Minnesota and turn Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada blue. Today, President Biden released his Presidential Memorandum reaffirming President Bill Clinton’s E.O.13175 which established Government to Government relations with tribes. Next is the appointment of the Nation’s first American Indian to a cabinet level position
Memorandum On Tribal Consultation And Strengthening Nation-To-Nation Relationships
The White House, January 26
American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Nations are sovereign governments recognized under the Constitution of the United States, treaties, statutes, Executive Orders, and court decisions. It is a priority of my Administration to make respect for Tribal sovereignty and self-governance, commitment to fulfilling Federal trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribal Nations, and regular, meaningful, and robust consultation with Tribal Nations cornerstones of Federal Indian policy. To this end, Executive Order 13175 of November 6, 2000 (Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments), charges all executive departments and agencies with engaging in regular, meaningful, and robust consultation with Tribal officials in the development of Federal policies that have Tribal implications.
Court Upholds Key Ruling Against Dakota Access Pipeline
Indian Country Today, Dalton Walker, January 26
A federal appeals court has upheld a key ruling against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The U.S Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a ruling Tuesday upholding a federal court’s decision that revoked a key pipeline permit and required a more extensive environmental study. The ruling does not require the pipeline to shut down or be emptied of oil. The ruling is the latest move in an ongoing fight over the controversial pipeline that tribes and water protectors have been against for years. It comes just days after four Lakota tribes called on President Joe Biden to take action on the pipeline.
Tuesday Navajo Nation Covid-19 Update: 87 New Cases And 8 More Deaths
Native News Online, January 26
The Navajo Department of Health reported 87 new Covid-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and eight more deaths. The total number of deaths is now 985 as of Tuesday. Reports indicate that 14,196 individuals have recovered from Covid-19, and 229,782 Covid-19 tests have been administered. The total number of positive Covid-19 cases is now 27,665, including five delayed reported cases.
Statehouse Path Unclear For Move To End Kansas Columbus Day
AP News, Andry Tsubasa Field, January 26
Legislators have heard testimony from Democratic lawmakers pushing for Kansas to join a handful of states observing a day honoring Native Americans instead of Christopher Columbus, but a chief proponent said he doubts that the bill will get a vote. Native American advocates have pressed states to change to Indigenous Peoples Day over concerns that Columbus helped launched centuries of genocide against indigenous populations in the Americas.
Oil-Reliant Tribes Ask For Exemption
Indian Country Today, Dalton Walker, January 26
President Joe Biden’s impact is being felt in Indian Country, and his administration appears to be listening as well. A Biden-issued 60-day suspension of new drilling permits for federal lands and water was lauded by many in Indian Country who support environmentally friendly policy. But at least one tribe that depends on oil production immediately asked for an exemption. Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation issued a strongly worded letter dated Jan. 21 to Scott de la Vega, acting Interior secretary, to amend the order to allow drilling permits and approvals on Native land. On Monday, the tribe said the Biden administration responded to its letter and issued clarification that the tribe was indeed exempt.
Ute Indian Tribal And Allotted Lands Exempt From Department Of Interior Oil And Gas Permitting Order
Indian Country Today, January 26
The Biden Administration issued a correction to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretarial Order No. 3395, clarifying that energy development on the Ute Indian Tribe’s Uintah and Ouray Reservation will continue without being subject to the department’s newly imposed restrictions pertaining to federally managed public lands. The Ute Indian Tribe is a major oil- and gas-producing tribe that uses revenues from its energy development to fund essential tribal governmental services, which in turn provides direct support and assistance to its tribal membership.
Pascua Yaqui Win Water Funds, First Of $150 Million For Arizona Projects
Cronkite News, Sarah Oven, January 26
Pascua Yaqui Council members called it “a blessing” Tuesday.
They were talking about $900,000 in federal funds that will be used to bring water to the tribe’s lands for irrigation, the first fruits of a successful effort last year by members of the state’s congressional delegation to win $150 million in federal funding for water projects around the state. The money comes from an Army Corps of Engineers fund dedicated to water infrastructure projects in Arizona.