It is a proud day for Native Americans. Deb Haaland, a Congresswoman from New Mexico, has been confirmed as Secretary of the Interior.
Secretary Haaland will now preside over the native lands which the white American invaders stole from her people in the westward movement which came to be known as Manifest Destiny.
Hundreds of thousands lost their ancestral homes and lives during the white invaders encroachment of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Native American Haaland’s ascent is a small step forward in the long struggle to gain equal rights and equity. To show that racist and sexist habits are hard to destroy 40 Senators, all Republicans, voted against her confirmation.
The Guardian 3.21.2021
Interior secretary from New Mexico will be responsible for US’s land, seas and national resources.
Deb Haaland has been confirmed as the secretary of the interior, making her the first Indigenous cabinet secretary in US history.
The 60-year-old from New Mexico will be responsible for the country’s land, seas and natural resources, as well as overseeing tribal affairs.
The US Senate confirmed the Democrat on Monday by a vote of 51-40, after she secured the support of Republican senators including Lindsey Graham, Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan and Susan Collins.
Last year, Haaland sponsored a bill that would set a national goal of protecting 30% of US lands and oceans by 2030 – the 30 by 30 commitment since made by Biden in an executive order.
In a recent interview, Haaland told the Guardian that as secretary of the interior she would “move climate change priorities, tribal consultation and a green economic recovery forward”.
In a statement after the vote, Haaland said she was “ready to serve”.
Haaland is a member of the Laguna Pueblo, one of 574 sovereign tribal nations located across 35 states. She is the most senior Indigenous American in the US government since the Republican Charles Curtis, a member of the Kaw nation situated in what is now Kansas, who served as vice-president to Herbert Hoover between 1929 and 1933.
She will lead about 70,000 staff who oversee one-fifth of all the land in the US and 1.7bn acres of coastlines, as well as managing national parks, wildlife refuges and natural resources such as gas, oil and water.
Haaland will also be responsible for upholding the government’s legally binding obligations to the tribes – treaty obligations that have been systematically violated with devastating consequences for life expectancy, exposure to environmental hazards, political participation and economic opportunities in Indian Country.
According to the 2010 census, 5.2 million people or about 2% of the US population identifies as American Indian or Alaskan Native – descendants of those who survived US government policies to kill, remove or assimilate indigenous peoples.
Haaland’s confirmation comes after several days of grilling by senators over her past criticism of Republicans, even though she had one of the best records of bipartisanship in the previous Congress. She also faced hostile questions from senators from oil and gas states, who claimed her opposition to fossil fuels projects would destroy jobs.