Brimley, Michigan

Thank you, President Gravelle. You and Chairman Lowes are fearless advocates for your communities – ensuring that ancestral lands are protected, and fighting for justice and hope ahead. Your leadership echoes throughout this peninsula and to the rest of the state beyond. I’m grateful for all that you do.

Mayor Gerrie, Jaimee, thank you for taking the time to be with us today.

Joe promised to appoint Native leaders across his administration, and he has – including by hiring some amazing people from your tribes.

Bryan and Liz, President Biden is grateful for your work. 

Serving as the second spouse of the United States is something I know a bit about, and, Doug, you are doing an incredible job – finding balance between your own profession and your service to the country – you’re the best Second Gentleman, ever! 


I’m honored to be with all of you today. What an incredible performance! Thank you for welcoming me.

I teach writing at a community college – like this one – just outside of Washington, DC.

And years ago, I had to tell my class that I would miss the next session for personal reasons.

Now, my students have a lot of shining qualities, but boundaries are not one of them. So, they immediately began shouting, “Dr. B, Dr. B, where are you going?”

My sister was having the first of her cancer treatments, a stem cell transplant, and she would be in a hospital room for six weeks. I tried to explain with as much composure as I could muster, but the words caught in my throat. I turned to the whiteboard, hoping to hold back my emotions.

When I turned back around, the entire class was standing. They lined up and gave me a hug, one by one.

Until that moment, I didn’t realize how much I was struggling, or how much I needed them.

Sometimes our strength comes from within us, and sometimes it can’t. It’s up to all of us to carry each other’s grief and joy.

In the darkest times of my life, I learned that one of the most courageous things we can do is lean on each other. And I learned that, often, it doesn’t take much to be that strength in return: A kind word. A hand on a shoulder. A smile that lets someone know they aren’t alone.

It’s a gift we give to each other: our vulnerability, our brokenness, and the chance to lift up our communities when they need it most. 

And suddenly, we become so much stronger than we ever could be alone.

That community – that connection – it’s something we all need. It’s how we heal each other, how we find our place in the world, making our planet a little brighter and a little better as we do. 

It’s what the Seven Grandfather Teachings tell us.

That when we act with love and respect, honesty and truth, bravery and humility, and wisdom – we understand how we can serve our communities – and the wildlands around them – and walk the path of a good life. The teachings tell us to look out for each other in the big moments – when lives change or crisis comes – and in the everyday moments too – like my students did for me.

It’s something I first heard more than two years ago, in central Michigan, at another Chippewa Tribe: the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe.

That idea carries here – across the Great Lakes – to the place of the pike and the place of the rapids too. This community comes together as a family – one that stretches across miles and fields and towns to the entire eastern U.P. You look for ways to serve your neighbors – to meet the moment – no matter how big or small.

You show up for each other – and for your communities – and the President and I want to show up for you.

Joe made a commitment to Indian Country – and he’s delivering on his promises.

His administration has made the largest-ever federal investment in Native communities. He signed an historic executive order honoring the Nation-to-Nation relationship and supporting Tribal self-determination.

And he’s begun an unprecedented collaboration with Tribal Nations to manage the lands, waters, and natural wonders.

It has been one my greatest honors to travel to Indian Country as First Lady.

In Tribal health clinics and schools, at roundtables and in gymnasiums, I’ve spoken with Native leaders and young people, who are weaving their heritage with their vision for the future, expanding connections through the reach of broadband, supporting revitalization of their Native languages, and growing their economies. 

The Biden-Harris Administration is proud to be a partner in those efforts.

Just a few moments ago, we had the opportunity to watch a beautiful performance – the cool breeze from Lake Superior all around us. It makes the air feel different than it does anywhere else, doesn’t it?

And we looked out at the horizon – the same one your ancestors considered generations ago – the same one your children’s children will contemplate together years from now.

Our partnership isn’t only about today – it’s about those children too – about how we will serve the next generation. And Joe and I stand with you and all of Indian Country, as we work to build that bright future together.

A tomorrow where we continue shaping our great nations – walking the path of the good life together. Leaning on each other with wisdom and respect. Learning from one another with humility. Pushing forward bold progress with bravery. And united by love – for each other and the Earth around us.

And together, we will create a community that stretches across lakes and plains – one that is stronger than any of us would be alone. 



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