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The Biden administration recently held the Tribal Nations Summit in an effort to give First Nation’s people a voice when making decisions that affect their community. The Tribal Nations Summit provided indigenous people with almost $36 billion in funding, governance, and most importantly tribal consulting. The funding gives more access to a carbon-free electrical grid, clean energy, and an Electric Vehicle (EV) Initiative supply chain that has created new forms of income for Native Americans. One vital plan that was developed at the summit is the revitalization of Native American languages. Spreading awareness about the importance of language, recognizing the United States government’s role in trying to erase native tongues, and showing the need to help restore what was previously lost are all ways the government has planned on maintaining Native culture. In addition to actively implementing the languages into society, the plan includes support through future funding to keep the promise of culture preservation for the newer generations of our First Nation’s children.
Though these acts are a step in the right direction for recognition in their communities, there is a loss of cultural significance and an increase in emotional distress due to forced displacement resulting from climate issues that the government has failed to address.
Statistics show that nearly 98.9% reduction of land has occurred for tribes that lived on coextensive land and 93.9% reduction that lived on non-coextensive lands. Additionally, about 42.1% of tribes have no state or federally recognized tribal land, and if they do the average percentage of historical land still held is about 2.6%. To give this some scale, First Nations held about 54.92 million sq. km to about 606, 604 sq. km today with an average of forced migration distance of about 240 km.
After being forced from their historical lands, Native Americans are experiencing more severe droughts in their new lands. Intense heat and lower precipitation cause unusual amounts of wildfires making their land lose any resources of economical value. Along with these climate stressors, the lands that they settled in were less of economic value (no oil or gas resources) and instead to them had ecological value which culturally had more impact. This has caused some tribes in Alaska and Louisiana to raise concerns with the United Nations claiming that the US government and their incompetence of combating climate issues is in violation of their human rights for.
Although these shifts in policy are progress for the Indigenous population in the United States, much more is needed to uphold for the upcoming generations to advocate their voice to be heard and recognized as a group themselves in forms of economic opportunities, land reclamation, language revival and the culture becoming apart of American society to have some sort of revitalization as a collective.
Effects of Land Dispossession and Forced Migration on ... - Science. https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abe4943.
“Fact Sheet: Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Actions to Support Indian Country and Native Communities Ahead of the Administration's Second Tribal Nations Summit.” The White House, The United States Government, 30 Nov. 2022, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/11/30/fact-sheet-biden-harris-administration-announces-new-actions-to-support-indian-country-and-native-communities-ahead-of-the-administrations-second-tribal-nations-summit/.
“Key Biodiversity Areas: A Tool for Tribal Climate Planning?” Native Land Information System, 30 Nov. 2021, https://nativeland.info/blog/topics/the-status-of-native-lands/key-biodiversity-areas-a-tool-for-tribal-climate-planning/.
Weisbrod, Katelyn. “Indigenous Tribes Facing Displacement in Alaska and Louisiana Say the U.S. Is Ignoring Climate Threats.” Inside Climate News, 10 Sept. 2021, https://insideclimatenews.org/news/13092021/indigenous-tribes-alaska-louisiana/.