Biden Picks Haaland for Secretary of Interior; Will Become First Native American Cabinet Official
Earlier this month, President-elect Joe Biden chose representative Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) to lead the Department of the Interior. If confirmed by the Senate, Haaland would become the first Native American to lead an agency at the cabinet-level.
“It’s momentous to see an Indian promoted out of the shadows of American history to a seat at the table in the White House,” stated Elizabeth Kronk Warner, dean and professor of law at the University of Utah. “Tribes and the federal government have a relationship that goes back to the 18th century ⎯ but despite that relationship, we have never had an American Indian at this level of government.”
A New York Times article highlighting Biden’s choice noted that as a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo, Haaland would hold a great deal of responsibility for protecting the 1.9 million Indigenous people in the U.S. The Department of the Interior runs the Bureau of Trust Funds Administration and the Bureau of Indian Education.
Following Biden’s election, many thought he might choose Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) to run the agency, until a group of Native Americans, Democrats, and celebrities started a campaign to promote Haaland.
Udall supported Biden’s choice and said that Haaland will “restore the department’s work force and expertise, uphold our obligations to Native communities, and take bold action needed to tackle the accelerating climate and nature crises.”
Since 2018, Haaland has served on the House Natural Resource Committee that oversees the Interior Department.
“It would be an honor to move the Biden-Harris climate agenda forward, help repair the government-to-government relationship with Tribes that the Trump Administration has ruined, and serve as the first Native American cabinet secretary in our nation’s history,” said Haaland in a recent statement.