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Remarks: Joe Biden Addresses the Tribal Nations Summit in Washington - December 6, 2023

  • Joe Biden
    Person
Unknown

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:00:00-00:00:04 (4 sec)
Hello, hello, hello. 1

Joe Biden

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00:00:04-00:00:17 (13 sec)
Thank you, Assistant Secretary Newland, for that introduction. 2

Joe Biden

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Please be seated. [Laughter] 3

Joe Biden

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00:00:18-00:00:34 (16 sec)
And thanks for -- thanks for all the Tribal leaders here. I want to say how much I appreciate your efforts for being here. You know, we're grateful that you made the journey to have -- we have an important conversation to have about things that matter most to -- to your people. 4

Joe Biden

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00:00:34-00:00:38 (4 sec)
That's why we're here. It's a simple proposition. 5

Joe Biden

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When I became President, I promised my administration would prioritize respect for Tribal sovereignty and self-determination, otherwise Danny Inouye would come down from Heaven and beat me up. [Laughter] I was raised by Danny Inouye. You think I'm joking. 6

Joe Biden

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00:00:53-00:01:01 (8 sec)
I remember once I said, "All those Indian na- ... " He said, "No. Nations, Joe. Nations, nations." And that was 50 years ago. 7

Joe Biden

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You know that we usher in a new era of relationship between our government and nation-to-nation relationships. 8

Joe Biden

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We've made progress, but we know Indigenous communities 9

Joe Biden

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still live in the shadows of the failed policies of the past. That's why -- that's why I committed to working with you to write a new and better chapter in American history for Indian nations. 10

Joe Biden

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To honor the solemn promise the United States made to Tribal nations, to fulfill our federal trust and treaty obligations, and to work together to rebuild Tribal economies and institutions. 11

Joe Biden

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To make this new era -- [applause]. You should be clapping. This is the first time this has happened. Come on, guys. [Applause] You may not be proud of all this, but I'm really proud of it. 12

Joe Biden

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Make this new era of self-determination a reality. 13

Joe Biden

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On my watch, the federal government has made record investments in Tribal nations. There's more to do. 14

Joe Biden

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The American Rescue Plan, the largest direct federal investment in Tribal nations ever. We helped vaccinate Tribal communities. We got the economy going again. 15

Joe Biden

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And the Bipartisan Infrastructure -- the single biggest investment in Tribal roads, bridges, water, high-speed Internet, electricity, [DEL: integration :DEL] [irrigation], environmental cleanup, and so much more. Because you deserve it, and it's long overdue. 16

Joe Biden

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The Inflation Reduction Act, the biggest investment 17

Joe Biden

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in fighting climate change ever, anywhere -- [applause] -- anywhere in the history of the world. 18

Joe Biden

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And helping Tribal communities to lead in the transition to clean energy and ease the impact of droughts and wildfires and rising sea levels that threaten Na- -- Native lives and precious homelands. 19

Joe Biden

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You know, at the same time, my administration last year secured the first-ever advanced funding for Indian Health Services -- [applause] -- $5.1 billion locked in before budget negotiations so hospitals could plan ahead, order supplies, hire doctors, knowing the money would be there. [Applause] 20

Joe Biden

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And we're going to keep fighting to make that funding is mandatory part of the federal budget so that Tribes can count on it year in and year out. [Applause] 21

Joe Biden

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Folks, these are transformational -- these transformational investments are going to help Tribes, but they help all Americans -- all Americans. We know the federal dollars are vital to your communities in order to be able to thrive. 22

Joe Biden

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We know you know how to -- you know best how to invest them, not us. You know. You know what your communities need. And that's what self-determination means. 23

Joe Biden

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But today, there are still too many hoops to jump through, 24

Joe Biden

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too many -- too many strings attached, and too many inefficiencies in the process. 25

Joe Biden

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For example, a small Tribe may qualify for federal funding but they can't afford to hire an extra staff needed to [DEL: compete :DEL] [complete] the -- all the paperwork. 26

Joe Biden

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Or a Tribal council may secure a grant but can't collect it without -- without raising enough cash to meet the federal matching requirements. 27

Joe Biden

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Or a remote Alaskan village may receive funds -- without roads or Internet and has to cha- -- has to charter a plane or -- every -- every quarter just to be able to -- required to be in compliance with the report. 28

Joe Biden

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Folks, we can do a hell of a lot better than that -- a hell of a lot better than that. [Applause] And we're going to. 29

Joe Biden

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That's why, today, I'm signing an executive order to reform the federal funding system for Tribes, cutting that red tape 30

Joe Biden

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so you can deliver for your communities faster and better. [Applause] 31

Joe Biden

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And here's what that order does. 32

Joe Biden

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It requires federal agencies to streamline grant applications, to co-manage federal programs, to eliminate heavy-handed reporting requirements. It gives Tribes more autonomy to make your own decisions. Not to mention, it's more efficient. 33

Joe Biden

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We know this approach works because we're -- because we're doing it, and some programs already. And we've been doing it for some programs for nearly 50 years. 34

Joe Biden

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Take the Indian Health Service. More than half its budget now goes directly to Tribes to run their own clinics and hospitals rather than relying on federal facilities. That's a source of local pride to deliver quality care tailored directly for each community, because communities are different. 35

Joe Biden

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Today's executive order also creates an online clearinghouse, a one-stop-shop where Tribal governments can more easily search for grants and all in one place. And the -- but that -- that to me, by the way, not only Tribes, but every state is asking for the same thing. [Laughter] 36

Joe Biden

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And the order also tasks the official -- the Office of Management and Budget and my Domestic Policy Council with identifying areas where our funding falls short and ways to meet these needs going forward. 37

Joe Biden

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Folks, separately, we're also [DEL: streamlining :DEL] [strengthening] the Buy Indian Act, so federal agencies get more goals and services -- goods and services from Native-owned businesses. Native-owned businesses. [Applause] 38

Joe Biden

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This year, for example, the Indian Affairs Bureau awarded 75 percent of its budget to Native-owned enterprises, up from about half that in 2021. 39

Joe Biden

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Together, these steps are going to help grow Tribal economies and reduce the hoops they have to jump through to get the funding they deserve. 40

Joe Biden

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It's all a part of my vision for a new era of respect. Respect for you as leaders, respect for Tribal sovereignty, respect for the Nations' fundamental right to build a future and own -- on your own terms, not anyone else's terms, not anyone else's terms. 41

Joe Biden

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From day one, I've worked to include Indigenous voices at the table in all we do. I've appointed Native Americans to lead across the federal government. 42

Joe Biden

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Not only Secretary Haaland, America's first Indigenous Cabinet Secretary -- [applause] -- and I can say without exaggeration, she is doing one hell of a job -- one hell of a job -- [applause] -- but scores -- scores of other Native Americans in key -- key roles across the administration. 43

Joe Biden

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I've been proud to re-establish the White House Council on Native American Affairs to help coordinate that policy as well. [Applause] 44

Joe Biden

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And I'm proud -- I'm proud to relaunch this annual summit after years of neglect by my predecessors. 45

Joe Biden

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I was proud -- [applause] -- I was proud to take historic steps to improve consultation process between federal agencies and Tribal Nations. 46

Joe Biden

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Working together, we also reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, which I wrote as a U.S. senator, expanding Tribes' sovereign jurisdiction -- your sovereign jurisdiction. 47

Joe Biden

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And I directed federal agencies to work with you to address the missing and murdered Indigenous people. 48

Joe Biden

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At the same time, preserving important and ancestral Tribal lands. I restored protections from my predecessor -- gutted by my predecessor at three national monuments: Grand Staircase and Beers Ear- -- Bears Ears. 49

Joe Biden

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00:08:46-00:09:09 (23 sec)
And, by the way, you know how that happened? I was in a plane, and a little girl came up to me. She said, "Mr. Pwesident" -- [laughter] -- "can you take care of Beaws Ears?" [Laughter] And I said -- I said, "Can I... " I thought she said can I take care of her ears. [Laughter] And I said, "What, honey?" And she said, "Beaws Ears. It's really important!" And guess what? She was dead right. And we did take care of it. 50

Joe Biden

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And Northeast -- [applause] -- the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts off the coast of New England. 51

Joe Biden

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I used to have my -- I used my authority under the Antiquities Act to designate new national monuments as well, including Castner Range in Texas, Camp Hale in Colorado, Spirit Mountain in Nevada, Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon -- which, by the way, I was really like -- I enjoyed doing that at the last -- anyway. [Laughter] It got some attention from people who didn't agree with me. 52

Joe Biden

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But at any rate -- [laughter] -- meanwhile, my Department of Agriculture and Interior have signed more than 200 agreements to strengthen co-stewardship of federal lands recognizing the value of Tribal knowledge. [Applause] 53

Joe Biden

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And today, we're publishing the best practices guide to help federal agencies work with Tribes to protect sacred sites in all those areas. 54

Joe Biden

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Folks, at the same time, we're helping to preserve cultural heritage like Tribal languages and sports. Sports like lacrosse. 55

Joe Biden

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Joining us today are members of the Six Nations Confederacy who -- which in- -- by the way, where are you guys? Stand up. [Applause] Come on. 56

Joe Biden

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Which invented lacrosse nearly a thousand years ago. The game brought Tribes together, a force for peace, friendship, and healing. The Six Nations players are still among the very best in the world. 57

Joe Biden

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And as a point of personal privilege, I know about this because I went to Syracuse University, long the home of a powerhouse lacrosse program. 58

Joe Biden

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And I might add, my daughter was a first-rate lacrosse player in high school, and my niece was an All-American lacrosse player [DEL: at Harvard :DEL] [in high school], so we have a little knowledge of lacrosse in our family. 59

Joe Biden

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00:11:10-00:11:26 (15 sec)
I wanted to play lacrosse, but you had to choose between lacrosse and football. You couldn't play both in the same season. And since I was a powerful six-foot, 158-pound -- [laughter] -- flanker back -- I was the runner-up at state scoring championship. Don't laugh, man. [Laughter] 60

Joe Biden

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As they say in football, I got soft hands. [Laughter] Can catch a lot. 61

Joe Biden

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This fall, it was announced that lacrosse will once again be an official Olympic sport. [Applause] And the Six Nations team asked to compete under its own Tribal flag. [Applause] And today, I'm announcing my support for that request. [Applause] 62

Joe Biden

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Their ancestors invented the game. They perfected it for a millennia. Their circumstances are unique, and they should be granted an exception to field their own team at the Olympics. [Applause] 63

Joe Biden

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Let me close with this. It's hard work to heal the wrongs of the past and change the course and move forward. But the actions we're taking today are key steps into that new era of Tribal sovereignty and self-determination -- a new era, grounded in dignity and respect, that recognizes your fundamental right to govern and grow on your own terms. 64

Joe Biden

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That's what this summit is all about. Excuse me. That's what this summit is all about. 65

Joe Biden

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So, I want to thank you all for being here, allowing me to be with you. And I look forward to continuing our work together. 66

Joe Biden

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Now, it's my honor to sign the executive order to do all the things I just said. 67

Joe Biden

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So, thank you, thank you, thank you. [Applause] 68

Joe Biden

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The tradition is, when you sign an executive order, you give one of these pens to the person responsible for it. You're all going to get a pen. I only have one. [Laughter] But I promise, you're all going to get one. 69

Joe Biden

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00:13:19-00:13:38 (19 sec)
The Executive Order Reforming Federal Funding and Support for Tribal Nations to Better Embrace Our Trust Responsibilities [and] Promote the ex- - era -- the Next Era of Tribal Self-Determination. 70

Note

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[The executive order is signed] 71

Joe Biden

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There you go. [Applause] 72