Biden Administration Takes Important Steps to Recognize Tribal Sovereignty, Protect Indigenous Rights


Washington, DC -- During yesterday’s White House Tribal Nations Summit, President Biden announced important steps the administration is taking to better recognize Tribal sovereignty and protect the rights of Indigenous communities. 

  • President Biden announced that the Department of the Interior and 16 other federal agencies have formally committed to protecting Tribal treaty rights in agency policymaking and regulatory processes. 

  • President Biden signed an executive order directing federal agencies to create a strategy addressing the crisis of murdered and missing Indigenous women. The link between assault of Indigenous women and “man-camps” associated with extractive industries, particularly oil and gas drilling, has been well-documented. 

  • Secretary Haaland announced steps to stop new federal oil and gas leasing in the Greater Chaco Canyon landscape, which would protect this sacred landscape, living culture, and communities from destructive extraction. 

  • The administration released a Memorandum of Understanding highlighting a commitment to ensuring that Federal agencies conduct regular, meaningful, and robust consultation with Tribal officials, as well as recognizing Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (ITEK) as an important body of knowledge that contributes to the advancements of the United States and to our collective understanding of the natural world.

In response, Sierra Club Acting Executive Director Dan Chu released the following statement: 

“For far too long, the federal government has allowed extractive industries to treat sacred Indigenous lands and communities as sacrifice zones. Indigenous peoples face devastating  harm from the fossil fuel industry in the form of air and water pollution, climate change, and the crisis of murdered and missing Indigenous women. The actions the Biden administration announced yesterday to improve consultation and better protect Indigenous rights will not undo generations of harm and broken promises, but they are a critical step toward ensuring the right of Indigenous peoples to live in healthy and safe communities.”


About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit