Last month, Congress approved a record amount of money for Native American tribes in the American Rescue Plan. This plan allocates $31 billion to serve tribal communities, including $20 billion to tribal governments, $6 billion to bolster health care systems, and more than $1 billion for housing. This is one of the biggest single investments in history that the federal government has ever made directly to indigenous people. This is a BIG step in the right direction.
Nick Tilsen from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, who is the founder and CEO of NDN Collective and an activist for tribal rights over lands, spoke about this good news and investment into native communities on PBS. He said it is a “momentous step forward” and that many are very “happy about the big investments going to tribes.” And, to keep this good momentum going forward, Tilsen said the federal government needs to changes its relationship with indigenous people. “If the federal government changed its relationship to Native people and started focusing on a free and prior informed consent,” said Tilsen, “what would end up happening is the entire relationship with tribal nations and sovereign nations would change, because you would no longer see things like pipelines built through our lands, or extractive industries built through our lands, or decisions made about indigenous people without our consent…This investment [the American Rescue Plan] begins to open a conversation about entering into a brand-new policy era.”
California Health Advocates is honored to have been working with the San Miguel Band of Mission Indians and Yocha Dehe Winton Nation the last several years building collaborative relationships with various tribal leaders, tribal communities and providing training on Medicare benefits and rights and tools to fight Medicare fraud to their elders, families and providers. We are extremely happy to see this recent large investment into our country’s indigenous peoples, their communities, health care, housing and tribal governments, and also support this opening of a new, more just policy era.