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Vice President Kamala Harris Delivers Remarks at the White House Tribal Nations Summit

November 16, 2021

Vice President Harris delivered an address at the White House Tribal Nations Summit. The Vice President announced that today, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has awarded the first three grants as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. In June, Vice President Harris, Secretary Raimondo, and Secretary Haaland announced the availability of nearly $1 billion in tribal broadband funding during an event at the White House. 



During her remarks today, the Vice President made the case for protecting the sacred right to vote – for Native Americans and for all Americans. That means passing the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act which includes the Native American Voting Rights Act. The Vice President argued for passing the Build Back Better Act, which combined with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is a statement of our commitment as an Administration to lift up Native communities, and strengthen the relationship between our nations.



--Background on VP’s Work to Support Indian Country--

 

Working with President Biden, the Vice President has helped lead the Administration’s effort to support Indian Country and work with Native American and Alaska Native communities.

 

  • Voting Rights:

o    In March 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting that included establishing an Interagency Steering Group on Native American Voting Rights (Steering Group).  The Steering Group will be issuing a report on best practices for voting rights of Native Americans, and has held a series of convenings looking at voting rights issues in Tribal and Native communities.

o    In June 2021, President Biden asked the Vice President to lead the Administration’s work on voting rights.  Since then the Vice President has met with voting rights stakeholders across the country, including Native American and Alaska Native leaders.  The Vice President convened a meeting in July 2021 at the White House with leaders, including NCAI Executive Committee member Shelly Fyant (Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes), to discuss the history, and the challenges and opportunities for voting rights access.   

o    In September 2021, the Vice President submitted a video recording as part of the Protect the Sacred’s inaugural Native Youth Summit.  Protect the Sacred began as an emergency response to the COVID-19 crisis within the Navajo Nation.  They have expanded their work to include protecting voting rights, among other issues key to Indian Country.

o    In October, the Vice President spoke at the National Congress of American Indians’ 78th Annual Convention and discussed the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to honoring tribal sovereignty and investing in Indian Country, including through the President’s Budget, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Build Back Better Agenda, and the American Rescue Plan.

 

  • Broadband:

o    In her role helping lead efforts to bring high speed internet to all, the Vice President has made particular effort to highlight the need for affordable broadband access across Indian Country. Chairperson Aaron Payment participated in a roundtable on high speed internet with the Vice President to speak to the need and importance of broadband access for his Tribe. 

 

Prior to the Administration, the Vice President was a committed partner to Tribal and Native communities.

 

  • As Senator, the Vice President fought for COVID-19 relief funding for Tribes and the Indian Health Service. As a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, she worked to ensure Tribal citizens were accurately counted in the 2020 census. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, she worked to protect the right to vote for Indigenous peoples.
  • As California Attorney General, the Vice President worked to protect Indigenous women and children. She was the first attorney general to provide a tribal police department full access to a state-run criminal history database. She also established the Bureau of Children’s Justice and launched an investigation into a local government for violating Native children’s rights by failing to comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act, and created the first ICWA Compliance Task Force.

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