WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will announce steps Monday to improve public safety and justice for Native Americans during the first tribal nations summit since 2016, the White House said.
The two-day summit will be attended by leaders from over 570 tribal nations in the United States. Nearly three dozen of them are scheduled to address the audience. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected Native Americans at an disproportionate rate and Alaska Natives as well, this summit will be held virtual.
Biden and Jill Biden will be speaking on Monday. Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to join them Tuesday. Several members of Biden’s Cabinet will also participate.
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, stated that the summit falls during National Native American Heritage Month. The White House is hosting the event for the first-time. This summit has never been held under the Trump administration. Previous conferences have been held in the Interior Department.
Psaki announced that Biden would use the summit as an opportunity to make public announcements about steps to improve safety and justice for Native Americans, and to defend private lands, treaty right, and sacred places.
According to the Association on American Indian Affairs, American Indians as well as Alaska Natives have a higher likelihood of being victims to violent crimes and are at least twice as likely to suffer rape or sexual assault than other races.
Biden took several steps since he was elected to office in January. The White House said that this demonstrates his dedication to tribes.
They include naming Deb Haaland (a New Mexico congresswoman) as the first Native American leader of the Interior Department. This powerful federal agency has influenced U.S. tribal leaders for many generations. Haaland belongs to the Laguna Pueblo.
Biden’s coronavirus relief plan included $31 billion for tribal communities, and the administration also has worked closely with tribal leaders to help make COVID-19 vaccination rates among Native Americans among the highest in the country, the White House said.
Biden also recently became the first president to issue a proclamation designating Oct. 11 as Indigenous People’s Day, giving a boost to longstanding efforts to refocus the federal holiday celebrating Christopher Columbus toward an appreciation of Native peoples.
Earlier this year, Jill Biden spent two days in April visiting the Navajo Nation’s capital in Window Rock, Arizona.