President Joe Biden will announce Monday that he will take measures to improve public safety and justice for Native Americans during the first tribal nations summit since 2016, the White House said.
More than 570 tribes in the United States are expected to join the two-day event, with nearly three dozen addressing the gathering. The COVID-19 epidemic has affected Native Americans and Alaska Natives at disproportionate rates, making the summit virtually unavoidable.
Biden and first lady Jill Biden are due to speak on Monday, with Vice President Kamala Harris expected to follow on Tuesday. There are several members of Biden's Cabinet who will also participate.
The White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the summit coincides with National Native American Heritage Month and was hosted by the White House for the first time. The summit was not held during the previous Trump administration. Past conferences were held at the Interior Department.
Biden will be at the summit to announce steps to improve public safety and justice for Native Americans and protect private lands, treaty rights and sacred places, Psaki said.
American Indians and Alaska Natives are more than twice as likely to be victims of a violent crime, and at least two times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than other races, according to the Association on American Indian Affairs.
Biden has taken several steps that the White House says demonstrate his commitment to tribal nations since taking office in January.
As a former congresswoman from New Mexico, Deb Haaland is naming him the first Native American to lead the Interior Department, a powerful federal agency that has had a lot of influence over U.S. tribes for generations. Biden's coronavirus relief plan included $31 billion for tribal communities, and the administration has worked with tribal leaders to make COVID 19 vaccine rates among Native Americans among the highest in the country, according to the White House.
Biden was the first president to issue a proclamation designating October 11 as the Indigenous People's Day, giving a boost to longstanding efforts to focus the federal holiday celebrating Christopher Columbus toward an appreciation of Native peoples.
Jill Biden spent two days in April visiting the Navajo Nation's capital in Window Rock, Arizona.