Sokaogon Chippewa Community News
Deb Haaland Confirmed as 1st Native American Interior Secretary
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we are excited to share that Deb Haaland has become the first Native American Cabinet Secretary in U.S. history.
The Senate voted 51-40 on Monday to confirm the Democratic congresswoman to lead the Interior Department, an agency that will play a crucial role in the Biden administration’s ambitious efforts to combat climate change and conserve nature.
Her confirmation is as symbolic as it is historic. For much of its history, the Interior Department was used as a tool of oppression against America’s Indigenous peoples. In addition to managing the country’s public lands, endangered species and natural resources, the department is also responsible for the government-to-government relations between the U.S. and Native American Tribes.
“Indian country has shouted from the valleys, from the mountaintops, that it’s time. It’s overdue,” Sandia Pueblo Tribal Member Stephine Poston told NPR after Ms. Haaland was nominated.
It’s not the first time Ms. Haaland has made history. In 2018, she became one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress. Her nomination by President Biden to lead the Interior Department was celebrated by Tribal groups, environmental organizations and lawmakers who called the action long overdue. But her nomination faced opposition from Republican lawmakers and industry groups that portrayed Ms. Haaland’s stance on various environmental issues as extreme.
“I’m deeply concerned with the congresswoman’s support on several radical issues that will hurt Montana, our way of life, our jobs and rural America,” said Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, who worked to block Ms. Haaland’s confirmation.
As a congresswoman, Ms. Haaland was a frequent critic of the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda and supported limits on fossil fuel development on public lands. She opposes hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. She was also one of the first lawmakers to support the Green New Deal, which calls for drastic action to address climate change and economic inequality.