“Since 1934, every October, the United States has recognized the voyage of the European explorers who first landed on the shores of the Americas,” said Harris at the gathering held the day after Columbus Day. “But that is not the whole story. That has never been the whole story.
“Those explorers ushered in a wave of devastation for Tribal nations — perpetrating violence, stealing land, and spreading disease,” the VP went on. “We must not shy away from this shameful past, and we must shed light on it and do everything we can to address the impact of the past on Native communities today.”
After citing the statistics of missing Native American women and girls and insisting the voting rights of Native Americans are denied, Harris informed the delegates, “Native Americans are more likely to live in poverty, to be unemployed, and often struggle to get quality healthcare and to find affordable housing.”
“This persistent inequity, this persistent injustice is not right. And the pandemic has only made it worse,” she added.
“This bill represents the largest infrastructure investment our nation has made since before World War II and presents, right now, an important opportunity to strengthen the Indian Country,” she explained.
Among the ways the Biden administration is seeking to make amends is by revisiting a Trump-era action as it attempts to give Native American tribes a bigger voice in federally funded employment and job-training initiatives.
Harris announced that the administration is reopening a 2017 memorandum of agreement for the 477 program. The program aims to allow federally recognized tribes and Alaska native entities to fold federal job and training grants into a single plan, budget and reporting system.
The law was amended in 2017, but tribes were not consulted and only learned about the memorandum after 12 federal agencies already had signed it, seemingly violating a 2000 executive order signed by then-President Bill Clinton.
The Biden administration now says it will reopen the memorandum and seek input from tribal leaders.
The White House this year issued twin proclamations, greeting both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day.
Harris’ speech followed a few days after it was revealed school-age children who joined her for a NASA YouTube video about space exploration were child actors, as Breitbart News reported.