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Kolby KickingWoman
Indian Country Today

The National Congress of American Indians kicked off its virtual Executive Council Winter Session with the State of Indian Nations address Monday afternoon.

NCAI President Fawn Sharp, Quinault Indian Nation, would normally give the speech to a crowd of tribal leaders in the nation’s capital, yet these are not normal times. So she spoke from her ancestral homelands on Pacific Ocean shores in Washington state.

The speech “shares the positive and future-oriented vision of tribal nations. The speech outlines the goals of tribal leaders, the opportunities for success and advancement of Native peoples, and priorities to advance our nation-to-nation relationship with the United States,” according to the national organization.

Sharp observed a moment of silence for those lost to the pandemic. She then asked to “acknowledge a fundamental truth, our shared Native truth.”

“If the United States is truly committed to embracing our shared future with courage, it must formally acknowledge – and reckon with – the wrenching pain its failures continue to cause our tribal nations and communities,” Sharp said.

Then the past can be used to “create an altogether different story with Indian Country,” which is already being done by the Biden administration.

Sharp, of course, pointed out the nomination of New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland, Laguna and Jemez Pueblos, to lead the U.S. Department of Interior is one action to create that different story.

“We call upon Congress to confirm Deb Haaland without delay,” Sharp said. Other critical actions the NCAI president highlighted to fulfills the obligations are rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, revoking the Keystone XL pipeline permit, suspending the oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the federal government taking on the federal cost share for the FEMA COVID-19 disaster resources.

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This is the 19th year of the speech, usually given around the same time the President of the United States gives the State of the Union address. A time and date has yet to be determined for President Joe Biden’s address.

For the last two years, Democratic Rep. Deb Haaland, Laguna and Jemez Pueblos, gave the response. However, this year’s congressional response comes from Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

The speech will be streamed live on the NCAI Facebook page and other social media platforms, and here at Indian Country Today. You can register to watch the event here

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

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Kolby KickingWoman, Blackfeet/A'aniih is a reporter/producer for Indian Country Today. He is from the great state of Montana and currently reports for the Washington Bureau. For hot sports takes and too many Lakers tweets, follow him on Twitter - @KDKW_406. Email -

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