Kamala Harris says European settlers ‘ushered in a wave of devastation for Tribal nations’ as she vows to ‘address the impact of the past’ on Native American communities
- The vice president on Tuesday addressed the National Congress of American Indians 78th Annual Convention
- She said that history did not adequately reflect the damage done to Native American communities by European settlers
- Harris said that the Biden administration was working to right the historic wrongs
- She also said that Biden’s infrastructure bill would designate funds to help tribal communities with internet connections and better facilities
Kamala Harris has vowed to work to undo the harm caused by European settlers who arrived in the United States 500 years ago, describing their arrival as having ‘ushered in a wave of devastation’ for Native Americans.
The vice president was speaking at the National Congress of American Indians 78th Annual Convention, held this year in Portland, Oregon.
She spoke the day after Indigenous Peoples’ Day – a date formally recognized by President Joe Biden who became the first U.S. president to acknowledge the day also known as Columbus Day.
Harris told the delegates: ‘Since 1934, every October, the United States has recognized the voyage of the European explorers who first landed on the shores of the Americas.
‘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.’
Kamala Harris on Tuesday addressed the National Congress of American Indians, and promised to work to right the historic wrongs committed by European settlers
Harris said that the Biden administration would work to right the wrongs inflicted on Native American communities for generations.
On Monday, Biden signed an executive order designed to help Native American communities with educational and economic opportunities.
‘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,’ said Harris.
‘Native Americans are more likely to live in poverty, to be unemployed, and often struggle to get quality healthcare and to find affordable housing.’
She pointed out that Native Americans make up a large proportion of the armed forces, yet their communities are severely deprived.
Native American activists lead a march from Freedom Plaza to the White House against continued use of fossil fuels on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the first day of a week of action hosted by People vs. Fossil Fuels
The message, ‘Expect Us’ written by Native American demonstrators, is seen on the Andrew Jackson statue in Lafayette Park on the second day of protests at the White House against the continued use of fossil fuels
‘This persistent inequity, this persistent injustice is not right. And the pandemic has only made it worse,’ she added.
She said that Biden’s $3.5 trillion infrastructure will help Native American communities, highlighting improved internet access and better facilities.
‘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 Indian Country,’ she said.
Last year, as presidential candidate, Harris spoke at the conference and pledged to add 500,000 acres of land into trust for federally-recognized Indian tribes.
She also promised to improve the Indian Health Service, which serves 2.2 million people.