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A land acknowledgement and singers from the Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Tribe opened the weekend inauguration events of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee held a welcome event Saturday evening to celebrate America’s changemakers as part of a five-day celebration leading up to Wednesday’s inauguration of Biden and Harris.

New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland, Laguna and Jemez Pueblos, gave a land acknowledgment from the nation’s capital, the ancestral homelands of the Nacotchtank, Anacostan, and Piscataway people.

“We acknowledge the legacy of this land's original inhabitants and find inspiration from the lands and the waters,” Haaland said. “We recognize that our country was built on Indigenous land and we pay tribute to the Indigenous nations who have stewarded these lands, these waters and animals for centuries, and who have made great sacrifices in the building of our country.”

New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland, Laguna and Jemez Pueblos, made an appearance to give a land acknowledgement and introduced the Quechan singers. (Screenshot)

The Interior secretary nominee also introduced Claudette White, Quechan, and the Lightening Singers from Quechan Tribe. She also thanked former councilman Preston Arrow Weed for bringing the song to this larger platform.

In addition to the 3-minute song by White and the four singers from the desert, White congratulated Biden and Harris on their win.

“I would also like to thank both of them for their commitment to upholding the U.S. trust responsibility to tribal nations and our sacred lands, with the promise to restore lands, and protect the natural cultural resources within them.”

More musical performances, speakers, and celebrity guests filled the welcome event. 

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Claudette White performed with the Lightening Singers from the Quechan Tribe. (Screenshot)

The inauguration events leading up to Jan. 20 are listed below and can be watched here:

We the People Concert
8 p.m. Eastern Time

“United We Serve” National Day of Service
All Day

“United We Serve” A Celebration of the National MLK Day of Service
8 p.m. Eastern Time

TUESDAY, Jan. 19
Nationwide COVID-19 Memorial
5:30 p.m. Eastern Time

— Inaugural Ceremonies (TBD)
— Pass in Review (TBD)
— Wreath Laying at Arlington National Cemetery (TBD)
— Presidential Escort and Parade Across America (TBD)
— Celebrating America Primetime Special (TBD)

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Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Diné, is the deputy managing editor for Indian Country Today based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter: @jourdanbb or email her at Bennett-Begaye’s Grey’s Anatomy obsession started while attending the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

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