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Biden signs order to address violence against Native people at tribal nations summit

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's a busy day for President Biden, signing a major new infrastructure bill into law and holding a virtual summit with China's president. But first, Biden restarted something the Trump administration had stopped - holding a summit with tribal leaders. NPR's Scott Detrow has more.

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DEB HAALAND: (Non-English language spoken). Greetings, tribal leaders and esteemed guests.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Interior Secretary Deb Haaland was the first federal official to speak at the virtual summit. Haaland, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna, is the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary.

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HAALAND: I'm grateful to stand here on the shoulders of the many leaders who came before me. I know that I stand here because the path that many of you carved ahead of me was clear.

DETROW: When President Biden took the stage a few minutes later, he noted that COVID-19 hit Native Americans especially hard.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: But tribal nations stepped up. And today the Native Americans have gone from being a population most harmed by COVID to one of the populations most vaccinated against COVID.

DETROW: Biden credited tribal leaders for that fact. And at a moment when many Democrats want the White House to do a better job talking up its record, Biden took some credit for himself, too.

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BIDEN: It also has to do with the American Rescue Plan, which included over $31 billion for tribal nations, the most significant investment in the history of Indian country - long overdue.

DETROW: Biden announced the administration will try to block oil and gas drilling near New Mexico's Chaco Canyon. He also signed an executive order directing several federal agencies to better work together to address violent crimes that take place on Native land and target Native people. Scott Detrow, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.

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