Nov 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

White House will host first Tribal Nations summit since 2016

White House

Photo: Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden will announce new steps on Monday to improve public safety and justice for Native Americans, as well as better protection of private lands, treaty rights and sacred places, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing Friday.

Why it matters: The announcements will take place during the first Tribal Nations summit since 2016, which did not take place under the previous administration. It is also the first time the summit is being hosted by the White House.

The big picture: Both the president and first lady Jill Biden will address Tribal leaders at the summit on Monday, while Vice President Kamala Harris is slated to speak at the summit on Tuesday, Psaki noted.

  • Leaders from more than 570 tribes are expected to participate in the summit, which is being held virtually due to the pandemic. More than three dozen tribal representatives will address the two-day gathering, AP reported.

State of play: The new announcements will build on other actions by the Biden administration.

  • In April, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland ordered the reversal of several Trump administration policies involving tribal lands, to allow tribes to have more ownership and management.
  • That same month, the Department of Interior also created a new unit to support investigations into missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives.
  • This summer, Native Americans transported a 5,000-pound totem pole to raise awareness about protecting land that they consider sacred.
  • Native American groups have also urged the administration to restore and expand funding Utah's Bears Ears National Monument, which was slashed by nearly 85% under former President Trump.

Of note: Some activists have been frustrated that the administration hasn't acted more aggressively to reverse Trump's rollback of protections for national monuments.

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