Today, the White House Council on Native American Affairs (WHCNAA) convened an engagement session with Tribal leaders focused on Native Language initiatives. Much of the discussion was centered on the implementation of the Native Languages Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) announced at the 2021 Tribal Nations Summit, which committed the Departments of the Interior, Education, Health and Human Services, Agriculture and seven other signatory agencies to address barriers to Native language revitalization, supporting integration of Native language instruction and language into educational settings, and strengthening Tribal consultation around Native languages.
During the 2021 White House Tribal Nations Summit, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland committed to convening her Cabinet colleagues three times a year to meet with Tribal leaders to share the work of the WHCNAA and listen to feedback, questions and concerns from Tribal communities. This was the second of these meetings.
The session was led by Secretary Haaland, who serves as co-chair of the WHCNAA with Director of the Domestic Policy Council Ambassador Susan Rice. Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland, and other senior administration officials joined the meeting for a discussion with Tribal leaders on how to protect, preserve and promote Native languages.
The leaders held a listening session with the Klamath Tribal Council and met with Tribes located along the Klamath River: the Karuk, Yurok and Hoopa Tribes. The Interior Department team also met with water users in gatherings with the Klamath Water Users Association and Klamath River Renewal Corporation.
Today’s engagement session also focused on implementation of President Biden’s Executive Order 14049, which created the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Native Americans and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities, chaired by Secretary Haaland, Secretary Cardona, and Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. The Initiative seeks to advance equity, excellence and economic opportunity for Native people through a variety of policy goals. It mandates that agencies consult with Tribes, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and state, Tribal and local educational departments.