Washington state perspective: Here are six takeaways from the Tribal Nations Summit

In a two-day virtual conference, the White House hosted the first Tribal Nations Summit since 2016. Leaders from the 574 federally recognized Tribes discussed Tribal education, healthcare, climate change and other pressing issues Nov. 15-16.

After an introduction from Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland — a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo and the first Native American to hold a cabinet position — President Biden presented five of many new initiatives aimed at “ building a new era of nation-to-nation engagement .”

He highlighted the Tribal Treaty Rights Memorandum of Understanding; Sacred Sites Memorandum of Understanding; Indigenous Knowledge Statement and Establishment of Interagency Working Group on Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge; Greater Chaco Landscape Mineral Withdrawal and the Improving Public Safety and Criminal Justice for Native Americans and Addressing the Crisis of Missing or Murdered Indigenous People executive order.

The event continued with panels including various government agencies and Tribal leaders. Sacred Sites

One initiative highlighted by the Biden administration throughout the summit was the Sacred Sites Memorandum of Understanding.

The memorandum creates a framework through which the departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Energy, Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the Council on Environmental Quality and the Tennessee Valley Authority can protect Tribal sacred sites.

It also identifies opportunities for considering Tribal sacred sites early in the federal decision-making processes that may result in regulatory and policy outcomes; adds a commitment to incorporate Indigenous knowledge when assessing impacts of federal actions on sacred sites; and provides clear direction on developing […]

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