On Indigenous Peoples' Day, we must commit to an equitable future for all indigenous people

October 14, 2019
The history of Native Americans in our region is rich and plentiful. However, the arrival of white colonizers left a scar on these communities that has yet to heal. By the treaty of 1855, daily life of indigenous people changed forever. Colonizers brought disease that ravaged through indigenous communities with the intention of disseminating populations. Failed treaties and broken promises from the federal government have left tribal communities reeling. To this day, tensions remain between tribal communities and the federal government over federal resources as well as the refusal to acknowledge the damage done to these communities over centuries.
I meet at least once a year with all the tribal communities in Oregon to hear their concerns, be advised on best solutions, and learn from their experience. I have spent time visiting historic tribal fishing sites along the Columbia River, an area where we've fought to ensure the federal government respects its obligations to maintain safety and adequate living conditions for the fishing camps that have been neglected for decades. 
I’ve fought to protect the potential of returning salmon runs to the Columbia River. Earlier this year, we secured funding for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, a major goal for the federal government and the state of Oregon. In the House this year, we have passed amendments that recognize tribal sovereignty and allow legal cannabis businesses to operate without federal interference. Our work with the Mount Hood National Forest and with indigenous groups will ensure their rights to hunting for sustenance are protected.
These actions and others are long overdue. It's time to take accountability for past misdeeds. Today, we should not honor the cruel inquisition led by Christopher Columbus, but rather the people whose lives he uprooted, and their instilled values that are at the core of our great country.
Today, on Indigenous Peoples' Day, let us recognize the rich history and legacy of those that came before us. We should honor them with a commitment to a continued partnership to right past wrongs and provide an equitable future for all indigenous people.