‘Our policy is nation-to-nation’: Tribes join President Biden in celebration at the White House

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Indianz.Com > News > ‘Our Politics Is Nation-to-Nation’: Tribes Join President Biden in Celebration at White House

FROM NATION TO NATION: President Harold Frazier of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, left, greets U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House on September 13, 2022. Photo courtesy of the Sioux Tribe of the cheyenne river

“Our policy is nation to nation”

Tribes join President Biden in celebration at the White House

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

By Acee Agoyo

Indianz.Com

WASHINGTON, DC – Tribal leaders are eager to fight climate change and improve economic conditions in their communities after the Cut Inflation Act was signed into law. President Harold Frazier of Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and President Jonathan Nez of Navajo Nation were among hundreds of dignitaries who traveled to the White House for a ceremony celebrating the new law on Tuesday. Although President Joe Biden did not specifically mention Indian country in his Remarks on the Inflation Reduction Act, he reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to the trust and treaty obligation as he made his way through the large crowd on a sunny afternoon in the nation’s capital. “President,” the president said as he greeted Frazier on the South Lawn of the White House, “Our policy is nation-to-nation.”


The White House: President Biden Hosts Event Celebrating Passage of Cut Inflation Act
The new law reflects Biden administration policy. Decreed by the 117th Congress by HR5376the Inflation Reduction Act will bring more than $720 million directly to Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities to help them climate resilience, household electrification, drought relief and clean energy initiatives. Additionally, the package expands loan and loan guarantee programs for tribes of historic amounts and ensures that tribes are eligible to apply for competitive grants across the federal government. A resource guide recently published by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs describes the opportunities as worth “billions” of dollars. “Today offers proof that America’s soul is vibrant, America’s future is bright, and America’s promise is real,” Biden said at the ceremony. “It’s real.” For the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, whose homelands are more than 1,500 miles from the White House, the Cut Inflation Act holds real promise.
President Frazier, which relayed the president’s “nation-to-nation” commitment on Indianz.Com, welcomes the opportunities offered by the law, particularly in terms of clean energy. Specifically, Cheyenne River will rely on donations from Unci Maka, or Grandmother Earth, to power a 450 MW wind farm on the South Dakota reservation. The Ta’teh Topa project, whose name means “Four Winds” in the Lakota language, benefits from tax credits accessible directly by the tribe, finally bringing renewable energies within reach of the community. “That’s what the Inflation Reduction Act means for Indian Country,” Frazier told Indianz.Com after his exchange with the president. In the same way, Chair Nose of the Navajo Nation hailed the law as a significant sign of progress. He said the Cut Inflation Act is bringing a new influx of resources to America’s largest reserve, following similar historic investments by COVID-19[feminine] and infrastructure packages that have crossed the finish line since Biden took office nearly 20 months ago. “The Navajo Nation has a seat at the table with President Biden and his administration,” Nez said after the ceremony. “The American Rescue Plan Act has provided over $2 billion to the Navajo Nation, the bipartisan Infrastructure Act is providing millions more, and now the Inflation Reduction Act will help our people ease the drought, clean energy initiatives, lower prescription costs and more.President Biden’s pledge to maintain nation-to-nation framework comes as Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe sounds alarm about a possible setback in the 117th Congress.In a notice on Indianz.Com on Tuesday, Speaker Frazier joined growing criticism of a legislative proposal that would streamline the approval of energy pipelines across America. Country has long opposed such projects because of their negative impacts on human lives, as well as water, air and other natural resources, many of which are supposed to be protected by s treaties and government-to-government agreements. But not only will the tribes and their citizens face more unwanted oil and gas pipelines, they will be unable to stop the developments due to proposed changes to the federal permitting process that limit interaction with the public. According to critics – especially Indigenous environmental activists – the proposal sacrifices people for profits that only benefit the energy industry. “It’s a real cloak and dagger policy and it’s our communities, our tribal nations, that are at risk,” said Joye Brown, a citizen of Cheyenne River who is a frontline community organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network. “This bill will gut consultation and judicial review processes while reducing what little protections we have for drinking water and our ancestral lands.” Democrats in the United States House of Representatives mobilize to defeat the changes before they even become a reality. So-called licensing reforms have surfaced in the US Senate, where Republicans have a greater ability to influence legislative outcomes due to the equal split of the chamber between the two major parties. “As tribal people, we need to be included in those conversations and immediately have consultations from the start because we’re supposed to have a government-to-government relationship,” said Jannan Cornstalk, a citizen of the Small Bands of Traverse Bay Odawa Indians who holds the position of director of Water festival is life in Michigan. “Many times that doesn’t happen, and this dirty deal would only deepen the denial of consultation and consent with the tribes and others most affected by polluting extractive projects,” Cornstalk said about of the proposal. Following the enactment of the Reducing Inflation Act on August 16, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs highlighted the following investments in its resource guide for Indigenous communities:
  • $235 million for tribal climate resilience, including hatchery operations and maintenance
  • $225 million for the development of tribal rebate programs for high-efficiency electric homes
  • $150 million for the electrification of tribal homes
  • $75 million for the Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee Program, including direct loans to tribes
  • $20 billion in loan guarantees eligible under the Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee Programa tenfold increase in investments
  • $25 million for Native Hawaiian climate resilience
  • $12.5 million for Tribal Drought Emergency Relief

Additionally, the White House has begun compiling ways Americans can benefit from the Cut Inflation Act through tax credits, rebates, and other programs. Some of the benefits listed on cleanenergy.gov accessible immediately and others will be available in the months or even years to come.

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