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President Joe Biden in his State of the Union address Tuesday night touched on several issues which are priorities for tribes across the country including economic development, COVID-19 recovery, broadband, and health care.
President Biden mentioned tribal communities in his remarks when talking about the infrastructure law to fund projects and create jobs.
The law set aside billions of dollars for Indian Country for high-speed internet, water and electricity projects, climate issues, and a number of other investments.
President Biden’s speech touted work being done by his administration and he called the State of the Union strong.
In statements, U.S. Sen. Markwayne Mullin (Cherokee/R-OK) and U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (Chickasaw/R-OK) were critical of President Biden’s State of the Union.
Both expressing frustration with the president and saying they did not hear solutions or plans to move the nation forward.
In a statement, U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids (Ho-Chunk/D-KS) expressed a need for bipartisanship in Congress.
A similar sentiment was made on Twitter by U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola (Yup’ik/D-AK) who called bipartisanship hard and messy, but worth it.
Meanwhile, guests at the State of the Union included Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren, as the tribe’s new president he took his first official trip to Washington this week.
President Nygren was a guest of U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ).
And Lynette Bonar (Navajo) was a guest in First Lady Jill Biden’s viewing box.
She was recognized for helping establish a cancer center on the Navajo Nation.
A new clinic in Rapid City, SD combines modern design and treatments with pieces of traditional Native culture.
Now, patients are being accepted – ahead of the planned construction schedule.
South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s C.J. Keene checks in on the center.
The Oyate Health Center sits on a plot in west Rapid City on the campus of the old Sioux San Hospital.
Jerilyn Church is president and CEO of the Great Plains Tribal Health Board. She says while bittersweet, leaving Sioux San represents a reclamation of tribal sovereignty.
“There’s so much history in that old building – it started as a boarding school, then it transitioned into a tuberculosis center, and then it turned into a hospital, but all of those entities were federally run facilities. What Oyate Health Center symbolizes is a new era of tribally managed healthcare.”
Church says embracing sovereignty will have tangible benefits for patients.
“What we are embracing here is wellness, not only from the physical standpoint, but we support and recognize that our emotional wellbeing is such an important part of our overall wellness. So, when our relatives come into this building, they’ll recognize that which is familiar to them as a reminder that this is a safe place.”
The new space will also increase capacity.
“We’ll be able to expand our primary care to a lot more than we are doing now in the current facility, but what we’ll also be able to do is provide specialty care. We have partners in the community that we hope will be joining us for those services that we routinely refer out.”
The fate of Sioux San Hospital is unclear, and the final decision is in the hands of the Indian Health Service.
NASA astronaut Nicole Mann (Wailacki) told U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday, she’s proud to represent Native Americans in space, and hopes to inspire younger generations.
“We need to inspire the youth. We need to inspire them to dream to help them achieve their goals, and that’s the advice I would give to the young generations. It starts with an idea, it starts with a thought and dream, but it doesn’t stop there.”
Commander Mann spoke to the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on a live video call from the International Space Station.
She is the first Native American woman to go to space.
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