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WASHINGTON — The outgoing vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), who chose not to seek re-election for his Senate seat in this election, released the following statement marking November as Native American Heritage Month:

“During Native American Heritage Month, we celebrate the resilience, history and contributions of Native Americans in New Mexico and around the country. But it is also a time to reckon with the painful legacy of our history and reflect on how we can better stand with Tribes and Native communities to meet our trust and treaty obligations. It has been a distinct honor to serve as vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, not only to work alongside New Mexico’s 23 Tribes, but also to learn from Tribal leaders across the country as we fight for their priorities.

“And while we honor the ways that Native Americans have shaped the foundation of New Mexico and the nation, we must not forget the unprecedented threat that the COVID-19 pandemic presents to Native communities. This pandemic has strained Native health systems, disrupted Tribal economies, and taken a disproportionate toll on Native families. Tribes across the country have met this crisis with resilience, but it is clear the federal government must redouble its efforts to meet our trust and treaty obligations and support Tribal COVID-19 response efforts.

This month is not only a celebration of the critical ways Tribes and Native Americans have shaped our society—it’s a call to work alongside Tribes to strengthen self-governance and self-determination, better respect Tribal sovereignty, ensure every Native voter can cast their ballots without barriers, and reflect on the ways we can move forward together. I remain committed to working alongside Tribal leaders to make sure the federal government upholds its trust and treaty obligations.”

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