FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Actions to Support Indian Country and Native Communities Ahead of the Administration's Second Tribal Nations Summit
This week, President Biden is hosting the second Tribal Nations Summit of his Administration to help foster Nation-to-Nation relationships and provide Tribal leaders with an opportunity to engage directly with senior Administration officials. Since taking office, President Biden has prioritized relationships with Tribal Nations that are built on respect for Tribal sovereignty and self-governance, honoring federal trust and treaty responsibilities, protecting Tribal homelands, and conducting regular, meaningful, and robust consultation. The President has also advanced an economic agenda that includes historic levels of funding specifically for Tribal communities and Native people, including $32 billion in the American Rescue Plan (ARP), $13 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), and $700 million in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
As Tribal leaders gather in Washington at the Department of the Interior for the first in-person Summit of this Administration, the President and members of the Cabinet will be announcing a number of new actions that will build on the progress that has already been made, create new opportunities for Tribal consultation and input, and produce lasting changes that will impact the lives of Tribal leaders and their citizens for generations to come.
- Presidential Memorandum on Uniform Standards for Tribal Consultation. The President will sign a new Presidential Memorandum establishing uniform standards to be implemented across all federal agencies regarding how Tribal consultations are conducted. These standards respond to input received from Tribal Nations regarding Tribal consultation and ensure more consistency in how agencies initiate, provide notice for, conduct, record, and report on Tribal consultations. The Presidential Memorandum will also require annual training regarding Tribal consultation for federal employees who work with Tribal Nations or on policies with Tribal implications.
- New Tribal Consultation Policies. To align with the new Presidential Memorandum on Uniform Standards for Tribal Consultation, and to advance the Administration's goals of improving Tribal consultation across the federal government, nine agencies will implement new or updated Tribal consultation policies. These include: (1) new policies announced today by the Department of the Interior (DOI), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Transportation (DOT), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); and (2) new policies to be released in the coming months from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP).
- New Best-Practices Report for Tribal Treaty and Reserved Rights. Today, 17 federal agencies, coordinated through the White House Council on Native American Affairs (WHCNAA), are releasing a new best-practices report to integrate Tribal treaty and reserved rights into agency decision-making processes. This best-practices report was developed in consultation with Tribal Nations and implements the agencies' Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Interagency Coordination and Collaboration for the Protection of Tribal Treaty Rights and Reserved Rights. The agencies include ACHP, Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Department of Commerce (DOC), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Energy (DOE), DOI, DOJ, Department of Labor (DOL), Department of State (DOS), DOT, DHS, Department of Education (ED), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
- Implementing Tribal Co-Management and Co-Stewardship of Federal Lands and Waters. President Biden has recognized the importance of increasing Tribal participation in the management and stewardship of federal lands and waters of significance to Tribal communities. In 2021, USDA and DOI signed Joint Secretarial Order 3403, committing to Tribal co-stewardship, including through written co-stewardship agreements with Tribal Nations. In 2022, they delivered on this commitment: in total, USDA Forest Service and DOI signed over 20 new co-stewardship agreements with Tribes to further co-stewardship goals, with more than 60 additional agreements under various stages of review.
Today, the Department of Commerce is announcing that it will formally join in these co-stewardship efforts by signing onto Joint Secretarial Order 3403. This commitment furthers an all-of-government approach to co-stewardship, and ensures that additional agencies—like NOAA—will further co-stewardship goals in their management of waters, fisheries, and other resources of significance and value to Tribes.
- New Indigenous Knowledge Guidance for Federal Agencies. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and CEQ are announcing first-of-its-kind government-wide guidance for federal agencies to recognize and include Indigenous Knowledge in federal research, policy, and decision-making. Initiated at the 2021 Tribal Nations Summit, the new White House guidance was developed with federal agencies, in consultation with Tribes and engagement with Indigenous peoples, to elevate Indigenous observations, oral and written knowledge, practices, and beliefs that promote environmental sustainability and the responsible stewardship of natural and cultural resources in federal policymaking.
- Access to Capital in Indian Country. The Small Business Administration (SBA), in coordination with WHCNAA and with involvement from DOC, DOE, DOI, Treasury, USDA, OMB, and the White House Council of Economic Advisers, is announcing a new access to capital initiative with the goal of increasing awareness, access, and utilization of financing opportunities for Tribal Nations. Implementing part one of the plan—awareness—will entail identifying and summarizing all loan and financing programs available to Tribes, including through ARP, BIL, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the IRA. Part two of the plan—access—will involve identifying barriers to capital and summarizing policy, regulatory, and statutory solutions to increase access to federal financing programs. Part three of the plan—utilization—will involve increasing utilization of federal capital programs by establishing baselines of use and setting metrics to improve the utilization rate of the programs.
- Implementation of the Indian Energy Purchase Preference at Federal Facilities. To ensure that investments in the clean energy economy reach Tribal lands, DOE—in coordination with WHCNAA and with involvement from DOD and the General Services Administration (GSA)—will launch a new initiative to increase federal agencies' use of Tribal energy through purchasing authority established by statute. Title V of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 established for federal agencies a preference for purchasing electricity and other energy products from Indian Tribes and Tribal enterprises. That authority has been unused for over 17 years. The Administration will hold listening sessions with Tribal Nations to better understand the market conditions for Tribes and Tribal majority-owned businesses developing carbon pollution-free electricity (CFE). DOD will integrate the Indian Energy Purchase Preference into electricity procurement strategies. GSA will lead a pilot focused on Tribal energy production to develop procurement strategies. Agencies will develop training and resources for Tribes and Tribal majority-owned businesses to foster technical expertise in the development of CFE projects, improve awareness of the Preference, and encourage partnerships for CFE development.
- Electric Vehicle (EV) Initiative for Tribal Nations. BIL includes funding to secure an American EV supply chain and to build out the first-ever nationwide public EV charging network of 500,000 EV chargers. Today, the Administration is announcing an EV Initiative for Tribal Nations to ensure that Tribal Nations and Native communities are part of the EV future of the country. Ten federal agencies, including DOT, DOE, DOI, DOL, ED, EPA, HHS, HUD, GSA, and USDA, coordinated through WHCNAA, are supporting this effort, which will include:
- mapping the proposed deployment of EV infrastructure;
- prioritizing projects that serve rural and underserved areas, including Tribal lands and communities;
- providing technical assistance to take advantage of funding opportunities;
- prioritizing Tribal, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)-funded, and other schools on Indian lands for replacing diesel school buses with low or zero emission school buses within EPA's Clean School Bus Program;
- providing assistance to Tribes for the purchase or lease of EV fleet vehicles;
- consulting with Tribes to consider updates to the state certification process to improve Tribal input into state plans;
- releasing a new Toolkit that will provide Tribes the information they need to start planning and implementing EV infrastructure projects;
- expanding training, teaching, and employment opportunities for Tribal members within the EV market; and
- supporting Tribal Nations' roles in the EV battery supply chain.
- Implementation of the Buy Indian Act. President Biden committed to strengthening implementation of the Buy Indian Act, which provides for special federal contracting preferences by DOI and HHS to procure supplies, services, and construction from Native-owned businesses. The federal government is the largest purchaser of goods and services in the country, buying everything from software and building construction to financial and asset management—making its procurement a powerful tool to advance equity and build wealth in underserved communities.
Today, DOI is announcing its goal of awarding 75% of contract dollars from Indian Affairs (including BIA, Bureau of Indian Education, and Bureau of Trust Funds Administration) and 10% of contract dollars across the rest of the Department to Native-owned businesses, using its authority under the Buy Indian Act. The Indian Health Service (IHS) is announcing its goal of 20%. These targets will raise Buy Indian Act utilization rates at the agencies, result in hundreds of millions of dollars being spent in Indian country, and advance the President's effort to increase the share of government-wide contract dollars going to small disadvantaged businesses (SDBs) by 50% by 2025.
- 10-Year National Plan on Native Language Revitalization. The WHCNAA Education Committee is releasing a draft 10-Year National Plan on Native Language Revitalization. The Administration will consult with Tribal Nations on the draft and finalize the plan in 2023. This plan will be built upon four pillars: (1) Awareness—creating national awareness on the importance of Native languages, the current crises of Native language loss, and the urgency for immediate action; (2) Recognition/Affirmation—establishing a formal policy recognizing the role that the United States government played in erasing Native languages and affirming the need for federal resources and support for Native language revitalization; (3) Integration—integrating Native language revitalization in mainstream society, including in federal policies, and outlining the need to create Native language revitalization ecosystems; and (4) Support—identifying funding, including federal and philanthropic sources for Native language revitalization.
Other announcements that are being made at the Summit this year can be read here. Additionally, the White House is releasing a comprehensive Progress Report that details actions that have been taken across the Administration over the past two years. The full report can be read here.
Joseph R. Biden, FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Actions to Support Indian Country and Native Communities Ahead of the Administration's Second Tribal Nations Summit Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/358962