Today, White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chair Brenda Mallory convened a roundtable discussion with Tribal leaders representing the Nez Perce Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and the Yakama Nation, and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission at the Yakama Nation in Washington State. During the roundtable, Chair Mallory heard from Tribal leaders about the importance of a healthy environment, concerns about fish populations, and Tribal priorities for restoration and conservation.
Chair Mallory highlighted the Biden-Harris Administration’s priorities as they relate to Tribal communities, including the President’s Build Back Better agenda and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, the America the Beautiful initiative, and the Administration’s commitment to address long-standing environmental injustices through efforts like the Justice40 Initiative. She also discussed the paramount importance of improving engagement with Tribal and indigenous communities on the care and management of public lands and waters, protecting sacred and ceremonial sites, and upholding trust and treaty rights, a key component of President Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative. This comes as CEQ is set to convene two Tribal consultations in the coming weeks to garner input on the initiative, with a particular focus on supporting tribally led conservation and restoration priorities.
“It is an honor to hear from these Tribal leaders and the Columbia Rivera Inter-Tribal Fish Commission about critical issues impacting salmon preservation and restoration. Tribal Nations have stewarded these lands since time immemorial and their voices and expertise on these issues are critical. The climate and extinction crises are affecting all of us, with indigenous communities being among the hardest hit and most affected,” said Chair Mallory. “President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will make historic investments in improving climate resilience, restoring and conserving nature, and clean water infrastructure in indigenous communities. These investments will also help bolster the President’s commitment to support Tribal sovereignty and self-governance.”
“Today, we were grateful to welcome Chair Mallory to the Yakama Nation for her first visit to Indian Country as Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Engaging with Tribal leaders and hearing the priorities of our Tribal communities is essential to strengthening the United States’ Nation-to-Nation relationship with Tribal governments. We look forward to the opportunity to be strong partners in addressing the climate crisis, the protection and restoration of our salmon and fish resources, and the prioritization of Tribally led conservation efforts,” said Yakama Nation Chairman Delano Saluskin.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal includes a number of historic investments for Tribal communities, including funds for Tribal climate resilience through adaptation and community relocation planning and the design and implementation of projects. In addition, the deal includes funding for construction, repair, improvement and maintenance of irrigation and power systems, safety of dams, water sanitation and other facilities that serve Tribal communities. The deal also makes key investments for Salmon recovery and ecosystem restoration programs.