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    In this Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 photo, Beatrice Menase Kwe Jackson, center, walks with Daniel Emory, both of the Ojibwe Native American tribe as they lead a procession to the Cannonball river for a traditional water ceremony at the Oceti Sakowin camp where people have gathered to protest the Dakota Access oil pipeline in Cannon Ball, N.D.

    'Trump Administration Very Aware of Unique Sovereign Status of Indian Nations'

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    The administration of President Donald Trump is very mindful about the exclusive sovereign status of tribal nations across the United States, US Congressman Chris Collins told Sputnik.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Collins said on the sidelines of the 115th Congress Executive Council that Trump's pick for the Secretary of Interior is aware of the issue.

    "I know that the administration is very aware of the unique sovereign status of the Indian nations across the United States. Putting in Ryan Zinke as the Secretary of Interior, I do know he is aware of it,"

    Collins pointed out it is vital to make sure the issues of the tribal nations are "front and center" in the US federal government list of priorities.

    "Whether it’s in the Bureau of Interior, all the land issues or in our budget, whether it’s education, healthcare, infrastructure [to make sure] that their issues aren’t somehow lost," Collins said. "So, it’s a making sure as I’ve said to them, those of us in Washington understand their priorities and we can then represent them for money and on the issues important to them."

    At the end of January, the US Senate Energy Committee voted 16-6 in favor of Zinke becoming the next US interior secretary.

    The United States has 566 federally recognized Indian Nations, 229 of which are located in Alaska and the rest in 33 other US states.

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