Vice President Joe Biden
These are tough times. Our country is at a crossroads, facing a pandemic, a recession, and an election that will decide our futures for a very long time. And Native communities that have already sacrificed so much are once again on the frontlines.
We see courageous Native health care workers battling the virus across their communities. Countless caregivers reaching out to newly isolated families. Committed advocates working to rebuild tribal economies, and to register voters across reservations, giving them their most powerful political voice yet.
They deserve a president who will fight for them as hard as they’re fighting for their neighbors. They deserve a government that will honor its sacred obligation to Native peoples and do the hard work of healing.
But instead, President Trump’s failed leadership is only making things worse.
Trump knew how deadly COVID-19 was in January and did nothing. He still has no plan to contain it – much less to ease the inequities that have left Native Americans three times more likely to die from the virus than white Americans. Now, as cases surge again across Indian Country, Trump’s chief of staff admitted they’re not even trying to stop its spread. Instead, they’re pushing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would slash revenues for the Indian Health Service, strip insurance from nearly half a million Native Americans, and end protections for pre-existing conditions like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Trump keeps trying to slash tribal resources for education, housing, law enforcement, and more; and he only disbursed pandemic relief to tribes after they sued. He reduced the size of Bears Ears and tried to revoke reservation status for the Mashpee Wampanoag. And every time he rants about “Pocahontas” or rallies crowds to boo Indigenous People’s Day, he tears us further apart.
This is not who we are.
I’ve said from the start that I’m running to restore the soul of our nation. That means standing with tribes, not against them. It means following through on our commitments to Native peoples – and making tribal sovereignty and self-governance, and fulfilling our federal trust and treaty responsibilities, the cornerstones of Indian policy.
I’ve outlined a detailed agenda to do that – building on the progress we made during the Obama-Biden Administration, with new input from tribal leaders.
It starts by strengthening the Nation-to-Nation relationship and guaranteeing tribes a seat at the table. I’ll revive the annual White House Tribal Nations Conference, bringing tribal leaders and the federal government together to address critical issues. The Obama-Biden Administration held that conference every year for eight years; the Trump Administration hasn’t held it even once. I’ll require the federal government to engage in true consultation with tribal leaders.
I’ll also partner with tribal nations and follow the science to beat COVID-19. That means reaching out to tribal leaders, as well as governors and mayors, and asking them to mandate masks to save lives. It means ramping up testing and contact tracing, making sure frontline health care workers no longer have to ration personal protective equipment, and getting clear guidance and generous support to schools and small businesses, so they can reopen safely and stay open.
It means making sure that when a safe and effective vaccine is available, it’s delivered equitably and free to every single person. It also means boosting funding for the Indian Health Service, protecting the Affordable Care Act, getting more doctors to Native communities, and expanding access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment.
I’ll also put more land in trust for tribes, building on the record 542,000 acres added by the Obama-Biden Administration. I’ll restore the scores of environmental regulations that Trump gutted, and work to conserve a full 30 percent of American lands and waters by 2030 – starting by reversing Trump’s attacks on natural and cultural treasures like Bears Ears, and guaranteeing tribes a bigger role in managing culturally significant public lands.
And as we build our economy back better, I’ll make sure Indian Country benefits from that progress. We’ll invest in education, opportunity, and infrastructure – including new roads, bridges, housing, water systems, power grids, and broadband – creating millions of good-paying jobs.
I’ll work to end the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Ending the scourge of violence against women has been the cause of my life, since I first wrote the Violence Against Women Act three decades ago. Trump and Senate Republicans are refusing to reauthorize it.
I’ll push Congress to pass this key bill so I can sign it in my first 100 days, expanding tribes’ jurisdiction over non-Indian offenders of sexual assault, stalking, child violence, and trafficking, and boost resources for tribal justice systems and survivors.
I’ll make sure we protect the millions of Native veterans who’ve done so much to protect us, including by increasing their access to health care, home loans, and other housing programs.
And I’ll fight for Native people’s hard-won voting rights, restoring the full Voting Rights Act and working to build trust in government so everyone knows their voice counts. And it has never counted more than today.
The American people – all of us – are the ones who will decide this election. No matter how hard the other side may try to divide or dissuade us, your votes will determine our future. So please go to IWillVote.com for information and get your vote in today. Then, help five friends to do the same.
It’s time to move past the cynicism and heal our divided country. To build it back better, as a place of opportunity and unity. A place that honors its commitments and stands by its word to tribal nations. A place where everyone has a voice and every vote counts. I’ll lead on these issues, and more importantly, I’ll listen. Please make sure you get your vote in today.