The Tribal Nations Conference is being held again for the first time since 2016, and now it’s held from the White House itself.

Initiated in 2009 by then-President Barack Obama, the conference was set up as a way to facilitate direct discussion between tribal nations and the United States. The first one, with 400 tribal leaders attending, discussed the history of broken treaties as well as current developments in tribal economies, resources, public safety, housing, education, and health care.

Executive Order 13592 was born at these conferences, a referendum meant to improve educational outcomes and opportunities for Native American youth.

Until now, the last Tribal Nations Conference was held in 2015. Donald Trump opted not to continue the dialogue. But now under President Biden, the Seventh Tribal Nations Conference is being held virtually, with over 570 tribes represented. Biden and First Lady Jill Biden spoke on Monday, with Vice President Kamala Harris set to speak on Tuesday, as well as a number of Biden’s Cabinet members.

One of these Cabinet members is the new-minted Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, the first Native American to ever hold position in a Presidential Cabinet. She had the pleasure of announcing an educational program to preserve, protect, ad promote the use of Native languages. Haaland is a member of the Laguna Pueblo, from New Mexico where she is a former congresswoman.

Biden announced steps his administration intends to take towards improving public safety and justice for Native Americans, as well as increased protections for tribal and Native-owned land, treaty rights, and sacred places.

Biden also signed a new executive order on Monday, creating an official road map towards improving public safety of Native Americans, specifically addressing the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous peoples who have not received legal justice.

“In spite of seemingly insurmountable odds we are still here and we have a voice,” said Haaland of the new order.

Photo by Rena Schild /