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Biden hopes to strengthen relationship with Native American tribes

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Posted at 9:28 PM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 12:34:17-05

TULSA, Okla. — President Joe Biden is working to strengthen the U.S. government's relationship with Native American and Alaska Native tribal nations.

“Respect for tribal sovereignty will be a cornerstone of our engaging with Native American communities," Biden said.

The president issued a memorandum Tuesday on tribal consultation and strengthening nation-to-nation relationships. It’s giving federal agencies 90 days to come up with a plan of action to consult tribal nations on issues that involve them.

“Anytime an agency does something that might hurt, help, impact in any way tribes, tribal citizens, tribal lands," said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. "It could be environmental regulations, it could be health policy, it could be any number of things.”

Chief Hoskin said having this connection with the U.S. Government allows them to engage on key issues such as healthcare funding for tribes. He also is continuing to advocate to seat Kim Teehee as the Cherokee Nation delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives.

He said this relationship is good for tribes.

“It’s really also important for every Oklahoman," Chief Hoskin said. "I mean to have a sovereign government at the table when regulations or other activity is proposed and for us to be able to say this is what we think’s best for our communities.”

Chief Hoskin said, no matter who is in office, it’s important to hear this message from the White House.

This memorandum comes after an executive order in 2000 and another memorandum in 2009, both with a similar message. Chief Hoskin said Tuesday’s message from President Biden is encouraging especially after he said the Trump administration never issued one.

He said the memorandum gives them hope for even better communication in the future.

“My hope is that a generation from now this is so common plan that it doesn’t change from administration to administration," he said. "So, I think we’re on a trajectory of progress and better relations, but I also think there’s so much room for improvement.”

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