Statement by Vice President Joe Biden on Indigenous People's Day
October 13, 2020
Jill and I are proud to join with Native communities and all Americans to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day. Native Americans have always honored their deep connection to the land and kept faith with the rich spiritual traditions and heritage of their ancestors, often in the face of policies and violence that sought to strip them of both. With boundless resilience and strength, despite centuries of mistreatment and broken promises, Tribal Nations have fought to preserve their sovereign rights while also making countless contributions to strengthen the character of the United States — the famed American Indian Code Talkers who were critical to defeating facism in World War II, the activism and leadership of Native women, and so much more. It is a part of our history that every American must learn and respect.
Our nation has never lived up to our full promise of equality for all — especially not when it comes to the rights of the indigenous people who were here long before ships arrived from Europe. Today, we are seeing again the full consequences of the inequity that has long held back Tribal Nations as this pandemic tears through Native communities at an alarming and disproportionate rate. We must not allow this unfulfilled promise to continue to perpetuate unequal outcomes for yet another generation of our Native youth.
As President, I’ll make tribal sovereignty and upholding our federal trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribal Nations the cornerstones of federal Indian policy. I’ll support self-determination and promote self-governance. I’m proud of the detailed plan I’ve outlined to strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship that builds on the progress we made together under the Obama-Biden Administration. It includes putting more land into trust and protecting our natural and cultural treasures; boosting investment in schools, roads, housing, clean water and broadband creating good-paying jobs; tackles the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women; and it increases funding for the Indian Health Service and finally makes that funding mandatory.
On this Indigenous People’s Day, we must both recognize the past that has brought us here, and commit to one another to write a new future of promise, partnership, and equal opportunity for the proud Tribal Nations of our country.