Tribal and federal leaders recently gathered at the Interior Department for the White House Tribal Nations Summit.
Discussions included protecting tribal lands from the effects of climate change.
The Mountain West News Bureau’s Kaleb Roedel reports.
The Quinault Indian Nation is located along the Washington coast where the sea level is rising and causing floods. That’s why the tribe’s working to relocate to higher ground.
The Interior Department is giving them $25 million to help.
Tyson Johnston is the tribe’s director of self-governance.
“Now that these targeted investments are starting to occur, tribes that are smaller, that don’t have access to capital, are finally getting the resources they need to move from the planning phase and into the implementation phases of their work.”
Many tribal communities are affected by wildfires, drought, and extreme heat, which can threaten food, water, and energy supplies.
Bryan Newland (Bay Mills Indian Community) is the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs.
“We have to protect the ability of tribes and Native people to live in their homelands – to stay in their homelands.”
Earlier this year, the agency made $120 million available for tribes facing climate impacts.
Native women leaders were prominent at the White House Tribal Nations Summit.
Crystalyne Curley, the speaker of the 25th Navajo Nation Council, was among attendees.
She made history this year becoming the first Navajo woman to serve as speaker on the tribe’s council.
Curley says women in leadership is becoming normalized today as many tribal leaders come from matrilineal societies.
“Our mothers, our grandmas, are decision makers at home. And when you look at a lot of these issues, especially federally, locally, and even in states, a lot of these issues that are impacting us Indigenous people is home issues. Mental health, behavioral health, down to even water, food security. And I always put that metaphor out there. It’s going to be better coming from a woman. You know, as a motherly figure to fight for these basic needs. I’m very great to see a lot of a woman leadership here today just sharing ideas and see how they’re tackling down a lot of these social economic issues within their own communities, but also within their homes.”
Curley was grateful to take part in the summit.
“Many of our tribal leaders are here and being a part of discussion regarding federal policy and the direction that the Biden-Harris administration wants to take the direction in. And we’re really fortunate to be here to be part of the table. I think in Indian Country we always say that we want to be part of these discussions. We want to be part of the decision-making process. And this is a great time to do it today.”
There were many other Native women leaders at the summit including Lora Ann Chaisson, the first Houma leader of the United Houma Nation to ever attend the summit, and Bishop Paiute Tribal Chair Meryl Picard who introduced Vice President Kamala Harris.
On the federal and congressional level, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) made history as a Native woman in Congress and as cabinet secretary.
She joined virtually after contracting COVID.
U.S. Treasurer Chief Lynn Malerba, the Mohegan Tribe’s first female chief in the tribe’s modern history and first Native American U.S. Treasurer, was in attendance to hear President Joe Biden’s remarks, along with U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids (Ho-Chunk/D-KS), who also made history as a Native women serving in Congress.
Check out complete National Native News coverage of the White House Tribal Nations Summit
A federal court case was recently dropped after the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Court reversed its formal banishment of two Dupree School District employees, as C.J. Keene reports.
The school district is not affiliated with the tribe, but sits inside the reservation borders in South Dakota.
Teacher Sarah Shaff and district superintendent Keith Fodness initiated the lawsuit in response to the exclusion.
They were banished from the reservation at the beginning of the school year facing allegations of child abuse and failure to report.
A third employee also faced exclusion but her case was dismissed in September.
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