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Speaking at the memorial service in Las Vegas for the late Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), President Biden on Saturday said Reid championed Native Americans and tribal communities when it was not particularly popular for him to do so. The former Senate majority leader passed away on Dec. 28, 2021, after a four-year fight with pancreatic cancer. He was 82.

“He was always championed Native Americans and tribal communities and so much more,” Biden said. “None of it was easy. Not a lot of it was particularly popular when he was doing it. That's the thing about Harry: He never gave up. He never gave up.  He never gave up on anybody he cared about.”

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Reid’s work in Indian Country was recalled last week after Reid passed away. Navajo Nation Speaker Seth Damon remembered Reid for being a champion of the Navajo Nation and other tribal nations.

"Senator Harry Reid was a fighter who cared deeply about the people he represented. He was a true champion for the Navajo people and advocated for tribal nations across the United States. Through his leadership, the Navajo Nation and the State of New Mexico executed a settlement agreement to resolve our claims for use of water in the San Juan River Basin,” Speaker Damon said.

Damon also said Reid played a key role writing major portions of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and pushed forward the passage of the Affordable Care Act that would provide critical healthcare to millions of Americans.

Indian Country benefited from the Affordable Care Act because the law included permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA) providing long term assistance by the Indian Health Service (IHS) and tribal health care facilities. 

OJ Semans, Sr. (Rosebud Sioux), co-director of Four Directions Native Vote, a nonpartisan Native voter advocacy organization, said Reid, even after he retired from the U.S. Senate, participated the Four Directions and Nevada Tribal Nations Native American Presidential Forum 2020 in Las Vegas in January 2020.

“We will truly miss Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In particular, his work with Nevada tribes. Because of his commitment to the tribes in his state, the Nevada tribes endorsed him for his final Senate run before retirement. He believed in clean energy and helped develop one of the largest solar farms on the Moapa Reservation,” Semans told Native News Online.

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Levi Rickert
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Levi Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. He can be reached at [email protected]