Officials from the U.S. House of Representatives and Tribal nations recently discussed the need for continued federal investments in Tribal communities and conservation efforts.
U.S. Reps. Marilyn Strickland, D-Olympia, and Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, joined Brenda Mallory, the chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), leaders from the Nisqually Indian Tribe and other Tribal nations for a walking tour of the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.
“I greatly appreciate CEQ Chair Brenda Mallory, Congresswoman Strickland, and Congressman Kilmer meeting with us in our traditional homeland to have an important conversation about how we save, preserve and rehabilitate this landscape, these waters and salmon for all our future generations,” said Nisqually Chair Willie Frank III in a news release. “There is a lot of work to be done but we had a very productive conversation and I left feeling encouraged that we are all committed to this common goal.”
Strickland said the Biden administration is advocating for the rights of tribes.
“As Congress makes investments across our nation to Build Back Better, addressing equity for Tribal nations, honoring treaty rights and conservation must be priorities,” said Congresswoman Strickland in the release. “Protecting fish and salmon habitat, restoring Puget Sound and supporting clean water and sustainable infrastructure are all crucially important.”
She said she’ll continue working with her colleagues, the Nisqually Indian Tribe and other Tribal partners, CEQ Chair Mallory, the Biden administration and Congressman Kilmer to support equity for Tribal nations.
Congressman Kilmer said the federal government has “failed to uphold its trust and treaty responsibilities” for Native American communities for too long, the release stated.
“That’s why I’m grateful that Chair Mallory could come out to our region and hear firsthand about the steps needed to make real progress for tribal communities,” Kilmer stated in the release.
He added that the Biden-Harris administration is already showing its commitment to providing an “all-of-government approach” to fulfill the federal government’s trust responsibilities and to protect the environment.
Mallory said there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
“To address the climate crisis and confront environmental injustice, we must do far more to conserve and restore the lands and waters that sustain us,” Mallory said in the release. “The President’s Build Back Better Agenda will not only create much-needed jobs from coast to coast, but it will support the kind of work that the Nisqually Indian Tribe is doing to restore the health of the Puget sound ecosystem.”