Published on Jan 21, 2021
Yesterday, President Joseph R. Biden signed a series of executive orders, memoranda, and directives impacting Indian Country immediately after being sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. These actions include rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline, rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, halting funding obligations to the southern U.S. border wall, reviewing size reductions to the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, presenting a 2020 census apportionment that is fair and accurate, and directing all executive departments and agencies to review and take appropriate actions to ensure consistency with the Biden-Harris Plan for Tribal Nations. NCAI applauds the new Administration’s immediate responses to Indian Country’s advocacy on these issues, many of which were identified by tribal nations as priorities in NCAI’s 2021 Presidential Transition Plan. NCAI looks forward to supporting tribal government-to-government engagement with our federal partners. Below is additional information about these executive orders and NCAI’s resolutions supporting these decisions.
By Executive Order, President Biden revoked the Presidential permit granted to the Keystone XL pipeline and has signed the instrument to rejoin the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Beginning in 2008, NCAI opposed the Keystone XL pipeline and since 2015, has called for the adoption of strong human rights-based approaches to climate change, including recognition of the principles of free, prior, and informed consent and the rights of sovereign tribal nations to combat climate-related threats through a formal and meaningful commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement. NCAI applauds the Administration’s decision to prioritize climate change and tribal sovereignty on Day 1 by revoking the Keystone XL pipeline permit and commencing the process to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.
NCAI’s Resolutions on the Keystone XL Pipeline and Paris Climate Agreement:
- Resolution #DEN-18-061: Opposition to Construction of Keystone XL Pipeline and the Use of Excessive Force or Private Security to Suppress Free Speech
- Resolution #MOH-17-053: Continued Support for the Paris Climate Agreement and Action to Address Climate Change
For more information about NCAI’s climate-based advocacy, please visit our Climate Action Resource Center here and NCAI’s Climate Action Task Force here.
By Executive Order, President Biden directed the Census Bureau to include all persons, regardless of immigration status, in the apportionment count. The President also directed the Secretary of Commerce to “ensure the total population information presented to the President and the States is accurate and complies with all applicable laws.” NCAI has continued to call for timeline extensions for the 2020 Census, as this census has been plagued by numerous issues, including suspension of the enumeration process due to COVID-19, data accuracy in proposed privacy methods, and an undue acceleration of data processing. NCAI encourages President Biden to fulfill the commitment made today to ensuring a fair and accurate census, which must begin with the new Administration conducting meaningful tribal consultation.
NCAI’s Resolution on the 2020 Census:
Cultural Resources and Tribal Sovereignty:
President Biden declared an immediate termination of the national emergency declared through Proclamation 9844. Terminating Proclamation 9844 effectively ends the funding diversions to support construction of the southern border wall. Tribal nations have citizens on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border who make crossings for traditional cultural, ceremonial, and religious purposes. Access to healthcare, transportation, and other governmental services are also affected by the border. NCAI supports the Biden Administration’s actions intended to halt construction of a continuous border wall, which would erect a physical barrier that divide tribal lands and communities, harm the wildlife and natural resources sacred to tribal nations, and infringe upon tribal sovereignty.
President Biden, through Executive Order, also directed the Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Attorney General, the Secretaries of Agriculture and Commerce, the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, and tribal governments to conduct a review of the size reduction of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. The Secretary of the Interior has 60 days to submit a report to the President summarizing the findings. In 2015, NCAI supported the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni, Ute Indian Tribe, and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe – which collectively make up the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition – in the creation and tribal co-management of the Bears Ears National Monument. NCAI has since opposed any reduction of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments as well as changes to the Antiquities Act of 1906 that would threaten National Monument protections for tribal historic landmarks and objects of historic and ongoing cultural importance. NCAI supports this review of the previous Administration’s actions and looks forward to the protections of National Monument status being restored to the original boundaries of these vital cultural places.
NCAI’s Resolution on the Border Wall:
NCAI’s Resolutions on the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments:
- Resolution #MOH-17-006: In Support of Preserving National Monument Designations
- Resolution #MKE-17-057: Opposition to Amendments to the Antiquities Act
- Resolution #EC-15-002: Supporting the Presidential Proclamation of the Bears Ears National Monument, Including Collaborative Management Between Tribal Nations and the Federal Agencies
By Executive Order, President Biden withdrew the previous Administration’s regulatory process executive orders, and issued a memorandum placing a freeze on all of the Trump Administration’s new regulations and other actions, including several legal opinions negatively affecting tribal nations, until the Biden Administration can review them. This includes withdrawing rules not yet published in the Federal Register until they can be reviewed, and rules and legal opinions that have been published but have not taken effect, and agency actions that otherwise do not comply with the Biden Administration’s national objectives. These previous legal opinions and rules include, but are not limited to:
- M-37056: Status of Mineral Ownership Underlying the Missouri River within the Boundaries of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation (North Dakota) (May 26, 2020);
- M-37055: Withdrawal of Solicitor’s Opinion M-37029, “The Meaning of ‘Under Federal Jurisdiction’ for Purposes of the Indian Reorganization Act” (March 9, 2020); and
- “Oil and Gas; Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands; Rescission of a 2015 Rule,” 82 Fed. Reg. 61924 (December 29, 2017).
To view these presidental actions, please click here.
NCAI will be closely monitoring the Biden Administration’s initial actions in the coming days and weeks and will share out further updates as developments warrant.Subscribe to our News RSS