Deb Haaland: First Native woman tapped for Interior Secretary
WASHINGTON, D.C. – When U.S. President-elect Joe Biden chose New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland as his Interior Secretary, the nomination was the first ever of a Native American to the Cabinet post that supervises both indigenous land and sovereignty for the United States government.
It was also a product of the only massive grassroots endorsement that a Cabinet prospect mustered. Now it remains to be seen if Biden’s bold action is approved by the U.S. Senate.
When U.S. President-elect Joe Biden was the former Vice President, he knelt before Native U.S. Congresswoman Deb Haaland at her unprecedented election victory.
With Haaland slated to direct agencies that have primary jurisdiction on public land and mining, such as the Bureau of Land Management, as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a plethora of interested parties sounded off on the matter — even before Biden and Haaland made official statements.
Tribal leaders and grassroots around the country, along with elected officials, “stood behind her candidacy even when concerns that Democrats might risk their majority in the House if Haaland yielded her seat in Congress appeared to threaten her nomination,” The Associated Press said in revealing her designation on Dec. 17.
The National Congress of American Indians immediately issued a statement saying it “congratulates Congresswoman Haaland on her nomination and applauds President-elect Joe Biden for appointing the first Native American woman to serve in a Cabinet-level position.” It continued:
“We celebrate with Indian Country on this momentous step forward, and we are confident that Congresswoman Haaland will carry out the federal government’s treaty and trust responsibilities to tribal nations in a manner that meets the most pressing priorities in Indian country.
“We look forward to working with the Department of the Interior to support meaningful government-to-government engagement with tribal nations on advancing Indian country’s needs.”
Talli Nauman Talli Nauman is a longtime Americas Program collaborator and columnist, a founder and co-director of Journalism to Raise Environmental Awareness, and Health and Environment Editor for Native Sun News Today.