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WASHINGTON — After the 2020 presidential election winner declaration naming President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the victors, Indian Country reacted.

 Soon after the declaration, a prominent national American Indian organization leader told Native News Online on background “Indian Country has only been treading water during this current administration. Now is the time to strike to get more done for Indian Country under the upcoming administration.”

From the Red Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota where the Red Lake Nation tribal citizens showed its support to Joe Biden in the election with 2,167 votes (96 percent) to 86 votes (four percent) for Donald Trump, Tribal Chairman Darrell G. Seki tweeted:

“Biden/Harris won, people have spoken no matter what color we all are we all won and it’s time to unite move forward to make better lives for all, it’s a great day!” 

Below are some of the reaction statements to the new Biden-Harris administration:

National Congress of American Indians:

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) congratulates President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their historic victory in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election, which saw record voter turnout across the country and pivotal turnout from Native voters in the decisive states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Arizona, among others. NCAI looks forward to working closely with the Biden-Harris transition team in the coming weeks to ensure that Indian Country’s key priorities are addressed, and with the Biden-Harris Administration over the next four years to strengthen the government-to-government relationship and the federal government’s fulfillment of its trust and treaty obligations to tribal nations.

Jonathan Nez, president of the Navajo Nation:

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and First Lady Phefelia Nez congratulate United States President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris for being elected to serve in the White House, according to projections issued on Saturday. 

“The people have spoken and change is coming to America. Now that the hard-fought campaign and election have passed, we have to come together, heal, and unite to move tribal nations and the country forward on a positive path. The First Americans of this country, including a large majority of Navajo voters, had a major impact in the outcome of the presidential election in several swing states – that needs to be recognized and acknowledged by all. Both campaigns fought hard for Native American votes, particularly Navajo votes, and that’s truly a reflection of the growing influence and power of tribal nations across the country. In October, I had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with Biden and Harris to talk about the ‘Biden-Harris Plan for Tribal Nations’ and we were assured that tribal nations would always have a seat at the table. The Navajo Nation now looks forward to working together with the Biden-Harris Administration to put that plan into action,” said President Nez. 

During the meeting in October with Biden and Harris, President Nez highlighted the need for federal partners to work with the Navajo Nation to move forward with infrastructure development projects to provide clean water, electricity, broadband, and roads for more Navajo people. Among other priorities, he also spoke about the need to improve the health care system for tribes to improve health disparities, supporting economic development, educational priorities, remediating uranium mining sites, water rights settlements, solid waste management, and improving public safety.

“It’s a historic day for our entire country and the Navajo Nation. In the past several years, we have built a strong partnership and friendship with our next First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden, who helped bring the very first cancer treatment center to the Navajo Nation. I am incredibly pleased to see that the Biden-Harris team will soon be in the White House and I am looking forward to working with their administration and Dr. Jill Biden,” said First Lady Nez.

The Biden-Harris Plan for Tribal Nations states, “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are committed to upholding the U.S.’s trust responsibility to tribal nations, strengthening the Nation-to-Nation relationship between the United States and Indian tribes, and working to empower tribal nations to govern their own communities and make their own decisions.” 

The plan states that the Biden-Harris Administration will reinstate the annual White House Tribal Nations Conference, appoint Native Americans to high-level government positions, appoint judges who understand federal Indian law, ensure fulfillment of federal trust and treaty obligations, promote meaningful tribal consultation, defend the Indian Child Welfare Act, and strengthen self-governance. 

Seth Damon, speaker of the 24th Navajo Nation Council:

“The Navajo Nation congratulates President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on becoming the next president and vice president of the United States. The Navajo Nation recognizes the positive developments made over past administrations relating to tribal sovereignty, and we look forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration to further the policy changes and legislative priorities that will strengthen tribal self-governance. We invite the White House and federal leadership to meet with us on the Great Navajo Nation to begin charting a steady path forward under the new Administration.”

Cedric Cromwell, chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council:

We just witnessed – over what seemed like an eternity – a historic election. Joe Biden is the president-elect and Kamala Harris will become the first woman and first woman of color to hold the office of vice president. Please join me in congratulating both Biden and Harris.

I also want to thank our Tribal Council for taking decisive action in support of the Biden and Harris campaign. It was historic for our Tribe to take any action on a national election. However, in over 230 years since the first presidential election, we have never faced two candidates with such polar opposite views toward Native rights. To have taken no action in this election would have been a dereliction of our duty to protect our way of living.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe welcomes the new administration and we will be working closely with them. President Elect Biden signals a dramatic change for Native Americans with his commitment to strengthening aboriginal rights and tribal sovereignty across the country. He did this as Vice President and I’m confident he will continue that work as President of the United States of America.

Without question, this is welcome news for our Tribe. Over the past four years we’ve witnessed a deliberate attack on tribal lands and abandonment of treaty obligations. We now have a president and vice president elect that recognize the important role the federal government plays and is committed to protecting the trust lands of federally recognized tribes.

Our homelands are safer today than they were yesterday. Respect for our land sovereignty is being restored and our cultural and natural resources are protected. That is and remains our priority and we can sleep easier tonight knowing that we will have a president and vice president that share our goals.

The Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes (MAST)

The Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes (MAST) congratulates President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris for their successful campaign which projected a very strong Native platform. While MAST is a non-partisan Native organization advocating on behalf of 35 sovereign tribal nations across Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, we recognize the value of the Native vote and impact on the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. 

American Indians/Alaska Natives make up 1.2 percent of the state of Wisconsin's population, or about 70,000 people, according to the U.S. Census 2019 estimate. In this election, President Donald Trump garnered about 18 percent of the votes in Menominee County (within the Menominee Nation Territory) while Biden took 82 percent. Biden also won 57 percent of the Bayfield County votes (in northern Wisconsin within the Red Cliff Ojibwe Nation’s territory). 

“We worked hard to facilitate the Native vote in the Midwest understanding what was at stake and really turned out the vote. Especially at a time of epic challenges. Tribal Nation citizens participated and fought for truth and reconciliation and supported leadership that understands that power must come with accountability and the ability to bring us together, and move us all in a forward direction. Representation truly matters,” Shannon Holsey, president of the Stockbridge Munsee Band of the Mohican Nation said.

In 2016, traditionally blue states in the midwest voted Republican as presidential candidates largely ignored the needs of Indian Country. In 2020, the Biden-Harris Campaign, however, developed a comprehensive platform which reached out to tribal communities. This appears to have made a difference in key battleground states for which Native American mobilization and the Native Vote appears to have made the difference. Tribal leaders in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota took an active role in facilitating Get-out-the-Vote (GOTV) and encouraged Native voters to inspect presidential, senate and congressional candidates' platforms for a demonstration of support to uphold the treaty and trust responsibility. While these efforts were not partisan, candidates who had clearly articulated tribal platforms, prevailed as tribal voter participation made the difference. 

"The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe congratulates President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris on their election victory, and are excited to work with them. This is also a day of celebration because this is a profound moment in history. The glass ceiling is forever shattered and our little girls now know their dreams can come true. I'm excited for the day when I meet Senator Harris again and get to say, "Madame Vice President,” Melanie Benjamin, chief executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe added.

"While Native Americans represent just over two percent of the total US population, we represent the margin of victory in key battleground states so we can and did make the difference in this election,” Sault Tribe Chairperson Aaron Payment and Acting MAST President concluded.

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