Press Release

NDN Collective Responds to Biden Climate Justice Executive Order

For immediate release: April 21, 2023

Rapid City, SD – Today, the Biden administration issued an executive order on environmental justice that speaks to demands Indigenous people have been making for decades. The executive order doubles down on tribal sovereignty and consultation and coordination with tribes on environmental justice issues, provides guidance on addressing cumulative impacts of pollution and climate change, and supports research and analysis on how to measure the impact of environmental justice on tribal communities.

In response, NDN Collective released the following statements: 

“This action from the Biden Administration signals that our guidance and feedback, informed by our lived experience as environmental justice and Tribal community members, is not only being heard but is being implemented in the ways we need,” said Jade Begay, NDN Collective’s Director of Policy and Advocacy (Tesuque Pueblo). “As we face blatant attacks on the laws and policies that have protected our communities for decades, it is relieving and emboldening to see the Biden Administration double down on their commitment to continue to undo the environmental equities that tribal communities have shouldered for generations.

“While implementing this EO will be exciting and challenging, all those who work or have worked to advance Environmental Justice should acknowledge this win and celebrate our hard work,” continued Begay. “I look forward to working with the Administration to ensure that Indigenous communities and Tribes are informed and engaged on these new and updated commitments and initiatives, especially when it comes to advancing Tribal Sovereignty and Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge.”

Jade Begay (Tesuque Pueblo), NDN Director of Policy & Advocacy, stands behind President Joe Biden as he signs the Executive Order on Environmental Justice.

“The Biden-Harris administration expanding their environmental justice commitments by strengthening their inter-agency guidelines and approaches is an opportunity for all frontline communities to push for proper and complete implementation,” said Janene Yazzie, Southwest Regional Director at NDN Collective (Diné). “The commitment to coordination with tribal nations further opens the door to transition from an era of consultation to an era of consent for Indigenous Peoples in the United States.

“Having worked on the intersection of environmental violence and climate change for over 13 years, I have seen the widespread impacts to the public health of Indigenous Peoples and the destruction of precious ecosystems in and around our traditional territories,” continued Yazzie. “I’m deeply grateful that this EO directs agencies to address the cumulative impacts of pollution and climate change through the development of measures to address existing harms and to prevent future acts of environmental injustice. We must continue to mobilize and support the self-determination of Indigenous Peoples in the implementation process, especially in protection of our most vulnerable ecosystems—from the Arctic permafrost to the Southwest desert of the Colorado Plateau—that are currently targeted by extractive industries given the greenlight by federal agencies. ”

““In this historic moment, I honor and think of the countless Environmental Justice Leaders who spent decades organizing to create the conditions for this type of action to be possible today,” said Nick Tilsen, President & CEO of NDN Collective (Oglala Lakota). “Interagency collaboration and consent from tribal communities is critical to achieving the environmental justice goals set by the Biden administration. Environmental racism and violence exist because we have separated the environment from people, from the economy, and from all systems of our daily life.

“We have to tear down the silos within all levels of government, and instead build integrated approaches to protecting Mother Earth. We must move towards a just and equitable economy that doesn’t create sacrifice zones and hold people’s livelihoods hostage in the name of so-called American prosperity. This EO is absolutely a step in the right direction. We stand steadfast and our sleeves are already rolled up and ready for implementation.” 

Watch the Signing of the New Executive Order Here


NDN Collective is an Indigenous-led organization dedicated to building Indigenous power. Through organizing, activism, philanthropy, grantmaking, capacity-building, and narrative change, we are creating sustainable solutions on Indigenous terms.