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Dalton Walker

Indian Country Today

Nine days after being introduced to the world as President-elect Joe Biden’s Interior secretary nominee, New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland met with tribal leaders for a virtual roundtable.

Monday’s meeting was Haaland’s first as the Interior secretary-designate, according to the Biden-Harris Transition Team.

It’s unclear how many tribal leaders participated in the roundtable, where Haaland reiterated Biden’s promise to “fully honor America’s sacred trust and treaty obligations” to tribal nations.

“It’s the start of Joe Biden’s and my commitment to listening to our Indigenous communities as we work to address environmental injustice and live up to this country’s trust responsibility,” Haaland posted on Facebook.

An email seeking additional details on tribal leaders participating sent to Biden’s transition team wasn’t immediately returned.

Haaland, Laguna and Jemez Pueblo, would be the first Native American to ever serve as a Cabinet secretary if confirmed by the Senate. Biden introduced Haaland on Dec. 19 as part of his environmental team. Haaland said, if confirmed, she’d ensure that the Interior engages in “early, frequent and meaningful consultation” with tribal leaders on decisions that affect Indigenous communities.

The roundtable included a discussion on how the Biden administration will work with tribes affected by climate change and how it plans to create jobs, use clean energy, conserve and restore lands and waters.

Cedric Richmond and Julie Rodriguez were also part of the roundtable.

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Richmond is the incoming senior advisor to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. Rodriquez is the incoming director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.


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Dalton Walker, Red Lake Anishinaabe, is a national correspondent at Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter: @daltonwalker Walker is based in Phoenix and enjoys Arizona winters.

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