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U.S. House Democrats advance $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid bill


The New York Times

Native Americans ‘Left Out in the Cold’ Under Trump Press Biden for Action

WASHINGTON — When President Joe Biden introduced Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico as his pick for interior secretary, making her the first Native American to be selected for a Cabinet position, he acknowledged the country’s long history of failing the land’s first citizens. “The federal government has long broken promises to Native American tribes who have been on this land since time immemorial,” he said. “With her appointment, Congresswoman Haaland will help me strengthen the nation to nation relationship.” But with Biden’s election and Haaland’s nomination, tribal communities are looking for more than vague pledges. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times Angry over their treatment during the Trump administration, which oversaw a deeply flawed response to the pandemic on tribal lands and pursued other policies at odds with Native American priorities, they are now hopeful that Biden, who benefited from their enthusiastic support in battleground states like Arizona last year, will back a far-reaching agenda to address the poverty that has long ravaged their communities. They are pushing to ensure that any infrastructure plan the Biden administration pursues includes substantial money to improve access to water and electricity and to improve roads and bridges. They want more funding for their woeful health care service. They want changes to federal land use policy to minimize environmental damage from energy projects. And they want a renewed commitment to improving their schools. In more than a dozen interviews with tribal leaders, health officials and lawyers across the country, many expressed cautious optimism that the Biden administration will follow through on efforts to address 150 years of systematic failures and breaches of treaty agreements. “The Trump administration left us out in the cold when it came to the pandemic — all the federal aid that came as a result of the stimulus act, and other acts, throughout this year were meant to try to help entities deal with the pandemic, but we were left out in the cold,” said Tim Davis, chairman of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana. “There is so much we are going to have to do and we are hoping we will get that opportunity with the new administration,” Davis said. One main cause of their optimism is the nomination of Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe. If confirmed, she would oversee about 500 million acres of public land and federal policies affecting the 574 federally recognized tribal governments. She would run an agency responsible for shaping policy on Native American education, tribal law enforcement and the use of the country’s natural resources. During the campaign, Biden released a policy agenda outlining his plans for Native Americans and tribal communities. It included proposals to immediately reinstate the annual White House Tribal Nations Conference, nominate judges who understand federal Indian law, and fully fund the Indian Health Service. That agenda in part reflected the importance of the Native American vote to Democrats. A New York Times analysis of precinct data found that the Biden-Harris ticket received more than 80% of Navajo Nation and Hopi reservation votes in Arizona, which swung by a narrow margin into the Democratic column. Biden received about 13,500 more votes from the reservations than Hillary Clinton did in 2016. Biden won Arizona by about 11,000 votes, or three-tenths of a percentage point. Donald Trump won the state by 3.5 percentage points in 2016. Jonathan Nez, president of the Navajo Nation, one of the hardest areas hit by the pandemic in the country, was among the Native American voters who helped Biden win Arizona. The tribe, which overlaps parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, has suffered more than 1,000 coronavirus-related deaths and has seen more than 28,000 positive cases…



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