Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland addresses the Red Road to DC event on July 29, 2021.

“The fact that we’re all here is not insignificant,” Haaland said on the National Mall, with the U.S. Capitol in the background.

“When our nation’s capital was established, its policies were intended to exclude us, to assimilate us. Laws and policies were written without considering Indigenous communities challenges or their strengths,” said Haaland, who is the first Native person to lead the Department of the Interior, the federal agency with the most trust and treaty responsibilities in Indian Country.

“We’re working hard to undo so many consequences of these actions,” said Haaland, a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna. “Today, and every day, we break barriers to those institutions and systems that were designed to keep us out.”

The Red Road to DC arrived in the nation’s capital on July 28, following a 20,000-mile journey across the nation. Over 115 stops, a group of elders and carvers from the Lummi Nation raised awareness of the need to protect sacred sites and tribal rights.

Thumbnail photo by Tami Heilemann / U.S. Department of the Interior

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Red Road to DC brings awareness to sacred sites and tribal rights (July 29, 2021)