Haaland to be first Native to serve as Cabinet Secretary

by the DNC Native American Caucus

History is being made today with the appointment of Congresswoman Deb Haaland, tribal citizen of Laguna Pueblo, NM, as the Secretary-Designate of the Department of Interior (DOI). Once confirmed by the Senate, she will be the first Native person to become a Cabinet Secretary in US history.

We cannot express our gratitude and appreciation enough to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris for hearing the voices of Indian Country and making this visionary nomination. Representative Haaland is the right person at the right time to assume this position that oversees 500 million acres of surface lands, 2.5 billion acres of the nation’s offshore lands, Bureau of Indian Education, and Bureau of Indian Affairs which manages 55 million acres of Tribal lands.

Secretary-designate Haaland enjoys widespread support from 150 Tribes, National Congress of American Indians, Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, Great Plains Association, plus over 50 of her colleagues in the U.S. House Representatives as well as the express and steadfast endorsement of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The U.S. government has a profound legal and moral obligation toward Native American Tribes and Indigenous communities–a trust which has been broken time and again, undermining Tribal Nations’ ability to flourish politically, culturally, and economically. Democrats are committed to honoring, upholding, and strengthening the United States’ trust obligations to Tribal Nations and communities, as enshrined in the Constitution, treaties, federal statutes, and case law. The appointment of Congresswoman Haaland as Interior Secretary is a manifestation of the commitments made by President-Elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris to both strengthen the federal partnership with tribal communities and to have a Cabinet that looks like America – in all its glorious diversity. This will forever positively impact the lives of Native citizens.

The above joint statement is from the DNC Native American Caucus Chair Rion Ramirez, Vice Chair Paulette Jordan and Treasure/Secretary Keith Harper.

Congresswoman Deb Haaland

Secretary of the Interior

•Has spent her career fighting for families, including in tribal nations, rural communities, and communities of color

•Vice Chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources

•Will make history as the first Native American Interior Secretary and the first-ever Native American Cabinet Secretary

Congresswoman Deb Haaland currently serves as the Representative for the First District of New Mexico in the House of Representatives — one of the first two Native American women elected to the United States Congress. As a single mom and someone who has lived paycheck to paycheck Haaland knows the struggles many families face. A longtime organizer, Haaland has spent her career advocating for the needs of her community.

In Congress, she holds leadership positions including the 116th Congress Freshman Class Representative to the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, House Democratic Region VI Whip, and Deputy Whip for the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She is also the Vice Chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources and Vice Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus.

Prior to her election to the U.S. House, Haaland was an entrepreneur and advocated for environmentally sustainable business practices. Additionally, Haaland served as Chairwoman of the New Mexico Democratic Party — the first Native American elected to lead a state party. Haaland, whose mother served in the Navy and whose father was a Marine, also serves as an Honorary Commander of Kirtland Air Force Base. She earned a B.A. from the University of New Mexico and a J.D. from the University of New Mexico School of Law.

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