Secretary Haaland Highlights Biden-Harris Administration’s Commitment to Strengthening Indian Country and Telling America’s Story in Kansas


When: Monday, May 16, 2022
Contact: [email protected]

TOPEKA, Kan. – Interior Secretary Deb Haaland visited Kansas over the weekend to highlight the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to strengthening and empowering Indian Country, including increasing access to enrollment voters for indigenous peoples. Secretary Haaland also visited several sites that tell a fuller story of America and highlight the administration’s ongoing efforts to advance fairness and justice for all.

On Friday, Secretary Haaland delivered the commencement address for the Class of 2022 at Haskell Indian Nations University, a post-secondary tribal institution run by the Bureau of Indian Education. In her address, the secretary championed culturally relevant education and called on students to carry on the legacy of their ancestors. She also discussed the department’s recent announcement on the next steps for the Federal Indian Residential Schools Initiative, located on the campus that was originally opened as part of the federal government’s assimilationist policies in the 1880s.

Secretary Haaland’s remarks also highlighted the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to increase voter registration in Indigenous communities through the designation of Haskell University as a voter registration agency under voter registration law. This action will facilitate voter registration opportunities for registered students and community members and supports President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting access to votingwhich aims to expand access and education to voter registration and voter information to enable all eligible Americans to participate in our democracy.

Secretary Haaland became the first Secretary of the Interior to visit the Bureau of Trust Funds Administration’s American Indian Records Repository (AIRR), an underground facility that modernized and centralized management of the Department of Interior’s Indian records and works to safeguard historical records that date back as far as the 1700s. Secretary Haaland and Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Bryan Newland were briefed on AIRR’s use of cutting-edge technology and tireless work to preserve invaluable records of Indigenous history. The AIRR plays a vital role in research efforts that support the Federal Indian Residential Schools Initiative.

On the heels of President Biden signing the Brown National Historic Park Expansion and Redesignation Act v. Board of Education Secretary Haaland traveled to Topeka on Saturday to tour the Brown v. Board Education, which preserves, protects and interprets the landmark 1954 United States Supreme Court decision that outlawed segregation in public schools. The historic site works with local partners to explore, through exhibits, educational programs and special events, the story of Brown c. Board of Education in the Context of the Civil Rights Movement. Secretary Haaland’s visit is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s ongoing efforts to strengthen fairness and social justice and help tell a fuller story of America.

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