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Biden announces support for the Haudenosaunee Confederacy competing under their own flag in 2028 Olympics

President Biden, pictured Nov. 26. CNN Photo.
Originally Published: 06 DEC 23 11:49 ET
Updated: 06 DEC 23 15:54 ET

Washington (CNN) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced his support for a new team – and flag – competing in the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Delivering remarks at the White House Tribal Nations Summit in Washington, Biden said his administration would back a request from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, previously known as the Iroquois Confederacy, to compete internationally under their own flag in lacrosse at the 2028 games.

“Their ancestors invented the game, they perfected it for millennia, their circumstances are unique, and they should be granted an exception to field their own team at the Olympics,” the president said. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy spans parts of the Northeastern United States and Canada.

The decision began to come together this July, when Haudenosaunee leaders met with White House officials from the National Security Council, Domestic Policy Council and Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. The International Olympic Committee will have to approve the move. CNN has reached out to the IOC for comment.

Biden also outlined steps his administration had taken to strengthen tribal sovereignty before signing a new executive order aimed at streamlining Tribal access to federal funding.

In a speech delivered from the Department of Interior, Biden touted “record investments to tribal nations,” but still acknowledged there is “more to do” to ensure “a new and better chapter in American history for Indian nations.”

“Today, there’s still too many hoops to jump through, too many strings attached and too many inefficiencies in the process,” Biden said.

According to a fact sheet shared with CNN ahead of Wednesday’s summit, the executive order – the third signed by Biden aimed at strengthening bonds with Tribal nations – will direct all federal agencies to move funding programs to more closely fall in line with to the Indian Self-Determination and Educational Assistance Act, “which has allowed Tribal Nations to build and run their own hospitals, schools, and police forces to better meet the needs of their communities using the same federal dollars.”

The executive order also establishes a new “one stop shop” for Tribes and Native businesses to seek federal funding called the “Tribal Access to Capital Clearinghouse” while directing the White House Council on Native American Affairs, the Office and Management and Budget, and the White House Domestic Policy Council to reassess what it says are “unmet federal obligations” to Tribal Nations.

During his speech, Biden alluded to the historic atrocities committed by European settlers, and, later, Americans against indigenous people. The president acknowledged it’s “hard work to heal the wrongs of the past,” but he added that “the actions we’re taking today are key steps into that new era of tribal sovereignty and self-determination.”

“A new era grounded in dignity and respect that recognizes your fundamental rights to govern and grow on your own terms,” he added, “that’s what this summit is about.”

In addition to Wednesday’s order, the Biden administration is expected to announce a slew of new actions aimed at strengthening ties with tribal nations, including a series of steps the administration will take to ensure the preservation of Native American history and resources.

As part of those efforts, the administration is expected to announce more than 190 co-stewardship agreements across the federal government, “which allow Tribal Nations to collaborate with the Federal Government to manage the federal lands, waters, and resources that are most important to them,” according to a fact sheet shared with CNN Tuesday.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland – the first Native American to serve as a United States cabinet secretary – will also announce a new “Theme Study” led by the National Parks Service, “to broaden how we interpret and understand the Indian Reorganization period,” from 1934 to 1950, the secretary told reporters.

“If there’s one thing I hope tribal leaders walk away from this year’s summit with, it’s this – the progress we’ve made together is substantial, it’s history-making, and it’s thanks to President Biden working diligently with tribes across the country that we are finally building the future our people deserve,” Haaland said Tuesday.

Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Haaland and 10 cabinet members are expected to announce additional actions during the summit this week, including steps aimed at improving childcare assistance for tribal communities, expanding FEMA’s ability to assist tribal communities in the wake of natural disasters and disseminating a guide for best practices in the management, treatment and protection of Native American sacred sites.

This story has been updated with additional developments on Wednesday.

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