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Washington, D.C. December 18, 2020 – A day after the announcement that President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) as the first Native American Secretary of the Interior, Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and the Democratic majority staff of the House Natural Resources Committee released a new report titled Repairing the Trump Administration’s Damage to U.S. Indigenous Communities & Charting a Better Way Forward, offering the incoming administration and the 117th Congress a broad overview of how federal policy in Indian Country can be improved.
The report, available at http://bit.ly/37wy9kV, includes four major sections:
- A history of President Trump’s racism toward and intentional disrespect of Native Americans, and the policy impacts his attitudes have had during his tenure;
- The desecration and destruction of sacred tribal sites;
- The Trump administration’s negligent failures in responding to the coronavirus pandemic throughout Indian Country; and
- Recommendations for the incoming Biden administration.
Chair Grijalva championed Rep. Haaland’s candidacy for the Interior position. He has said he looks forward to having an Interior secretary who prioritizes tribal input rather than following the demands of extractive industries, as the Trump administration has done.
Key recommendations include the creation of a White House Office of Native American Affairs, establishing a deputy secretary of Native American affairs position under the secretary of the Interior, and reestablishing and restructuring the Obama administration’s White House Council on Native American Affairs. One of the main problems identified in the report is the lack of advocacy on behalf of Indian Country within the executive branch and the White House itself, where tribal equities are often sidelined or subsumed into other, sometimes conflicting portfolios.
“With Secretary Haaland at the helm, the Interior Department can help end centuries of discrimination and live up to the best ideals of our country,” Grijalva said today. “The Biden administration has more than a historic opportunity – it has a mandate to follow a more inclusive policy process and rebuild the relationship between the federal government and the American people. This report is a road map to help get that process started. I’m excited to work with Rep. Haaland and the entire Biden administration to center our environmental policies around community welfare and stakeholder input, which have been sorely lacking over the past four years.”