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Opinion. It is especially gratifying to see President Joe Biden lead in pushing to address the nation’s aging infrastructure with roads, bridges, water systems, schools, newer and greener energy platforms, public transit and high-speed rail, and much needed technology and broadband upgrades. President Biden’s and key members of Congress' announcement of a compromise deal for $1.2 trillion American Job’s Infrastructure plan will bring an additional $12 billion to Indian Country and a total appropriation to Indian County to historical levels to more than $44 billion dollars in the first year of this Administration and Congressional session.

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For Cherokee families and businesses to thrive in the modern era, we must have well-maintained roads, clean water, fast internet connectivity, and access to great education and job training. Cherokee Nation knows the importance of both the “hard” infrastructure of steel and asphalt and the “soft” infrastructure of economic development and family supports. That’s why we have long been a strong leader and partner in building infrastructure to strengthen our region’s economy.

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Last Tuesday, dozens of American Indians from Michigan tribes gathered on the shores of the Straits of Mackinac to see the “Red Road to DC” totem pole. It was the last official stop on its cross-country journey from the Lummi Nation, based in Bellingham, Wash. to Washington, D.C.

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When we say, “domestic violence is not traditional,” it is to remind Native Americans of a time before colonization. It’s a glimpse into a past when times were good. Instead, our memories only extend to the depths of colonization and the devastating impact it had on our people. Whether we know it or not, our words and actions reflect a story from the past.

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When news broke of the 215 bodies of Native American children found on the grounds of a former Canadian residential boarding school, my heart sank. It was like an earthquake shifting deep inside and causing a reverberation throughout my entire being. The historical trauma of the boarding school era hits deep, and while this particular school was in Canada, boarding schools throughout North America were highly detrimental, generationally damaging and wholly destructive to Native American tribes.

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As I was leaving Las Vegas Friday after a week covering the National Center for American Indian Economic Development’s Reservation Economic Summit (RES) and the National Indian Gaming Association's Indian Gaming Tradeshow and Convention, I was greeted with a nice email with positive news that the Cleveland Major League Baseball team is changing its name from the “Indians” to the “Guardians.”

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Earlier this month, I was proud to host a member of the Presidential Cabinet and other top U.S. health care officials in the Cherokee Nation. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, Indian Health Service Acting Director Elizabeth Fowler and White House Council on Native American Affairs Executive Director Morgan Rodman came for a special visit on July 1. This marked Secretary Becerra’s first official visit to a tribal reservation, on the same day as the state of Oklahoma’s expansion of Medicaid took effect.

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In late May, the discovery of the remains of 215 children in a mass grave at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia was disclosed to the world. The disclosure shook the world, shining a spotlight on a dark era of forced assimilation of Indigenous children by the government of Canada and the Catholic Church.  

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July is recognized as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Due to recent news from Canada that over 1,400 graves have been discovered on four different Indian residential schools, there has been a lot of sadness and anger that has emerged among Native communities across Canada and the United States.

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Throughout American history, the relationship between American Indians and the U.S. government has been fraught with mistreatment, oppression and disregard for the welfare of Indian people. The federal government has shown little regard for American Indians and callously labeled this country’s colonized inhabitants as the “Indian problem.”