Secretary Deb Haaland | White House Press Briefing
Posted: Monday, April 26, 2021
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Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland participates in a press briefing at the White House on April 23, 2021.

Haaland, who is a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna, is the first Native person to serve in a presidential cabinet and the first Native person to lead the Department of the Interior. Her appearance at the White House briefing was historic.

“I believe, just as President Biden does, that we must engage Tribal nations with an all-of-government approach, and one need look no further than the First Lady’s visit to the Navajo Nation to speak and hear from Tribal leaders and Indigenous People.

For too long, Indian issues were relegated to the Tribal offices within federal agencies. If we’re going to make sure that Native American and Alaska Native communities thrive, that Tribal sovereignty is respected and strengthened. And if we are truly to repair our nation-to-nation relationships, then that means every federal agency needs to be thinking boldly about our obligations to Indigenous Peoples.

The significance of being the first Native American to serve in the Cabinet is not lost on me. As I stand here today at this podium, I am moved by how monumental this week alone has been for Indigenous representation.

On Monday, I delivered remarks on behalf of the U.S. government at the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, where I affirmed our commitment to advancing Indigenous Peoples’ rights at home and abroad. I talked about how we’re putting the full weight of our federal government behind a cross-departmental Missing and Murdered Unit to address the crisis in Indian Country.

Yesterday, I announced that Interior is moving forward to implement the Not Invisible Act, establishing a joint commission led by Interior and the Department of Justice on reducing violent crime against Indigenous Peoples.

And later today, Domestic Policy Advisor, Ambassador Susan Rice, and I will convene the first White House Council on Native American Affairs meeting of the Biden-Harris Administration.

We’re wasting no time. We have an ambitious agenda. And so, I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work across the Cabinet in identifying and supporting Tribal equities in the administration’s core policy pillars.

Last, I come from a family that farms, ranches, and hunts. I’ve grown up in rural and agricultural communities, and I know what it’s like to live in a community that’s been left behind. These experiences underscore while I believe — why I believe so deeply in the work that we do at the Interior Department and why I know that we can and will make a difference in the everyday lives of families across this country.”