Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo Nation in New Mexico and whose household ties in the nation will be traced again 35 generations, will take management of a division that additionally oversees Indian Country, 574 federally acknowledged Native American and Alaska Native communities.
Four Republicans crossed occasion strains to vote for Haaland. The shut vote mirrored broad help from Democrats and overwhelming opposition from Republicans.
Many Republicans decried Haaland’s help for the Green New Deal, which requires dramatically reducing fossil-fuel emissions, and her opposition to an enlargement of oil and gasoline drilling on public land, saying the positions disqualified her to lead an company that has historically promoted these ventures.
Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) recalled how Republicans launched a “ferocious” assault in opposition to Haaland, calling her views on managing public land excessive and “radical” throughout her committee affirmation listening to. Meanwhile, Smith mentioned, a few of those self same senators posed little opposition to Tom Vilsack’s nomination to run the Agriculture Department, though lots of his views are comparable to Haaland’s.
“I just find it difficult to take these Republican attacks at face value,” Smith mentioned. “Once again a woman, and a woman of color, is being held to a different standard and we need to call it.”
Two key GOP senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, broke with their caucus days earlier than the vote to announce their help for Haaland.
Murkowski mentioned she would vote to make historical past regardless of her strong reservations about the impact a secretary with Haaland’s views might have on her oil-rich state.
Native Alaskans make up about 20 p.c of her state’s inhabitants, in accordance to the 2014 Census replace, and tons of of girls submitted an open letter in the Anchorage Daily News in help of Haaland. Alaska’s second senator, Dan Sullivan (R), joined Murkowski in voting for Haaland.
Collins praised Haaland’s deep information of Indian affairs and mentioned the nominee gained her belief, and her vote, throughout a assembly.
The significance of the achievement moved Crystal EchoHawk to tears. “I get emotional right now because our children will know that anything’s possible,” mentioned EchoHawk, government director of IllumiNative, a group that makes use of popular culture and media to dispel Native American stereotypes. “We turn on the TV, we look at the news and we don’t see anyone who looks like us.”
Haaland is scheduled to be sworn in Wednesday. In addition to being the first Native American to run Interior, she shall be solely the third girl to run the company and the first American Indian to maintain a Cabinet-level place.
When she accepted her nomination for the job in December, Haaland recalled that Alexander H.H. Stuart, the division’s third secretary, mentioned the solely different for the United States after defeating Indians in wars was to “civilize or exterminate them.”
“If it weren’t for covid, there would probably be thousands of Native Americans descending on D.C.,” EchoHawk mentioned. “But thousands of people will gather virtually. We’re organizing a virtual watch party and a virtual celebration.”
During her affirmation hearings, Haaland mentioned repeatedly that her precedence as a member of President Biden’s Cabinet shall be to assist execute his local weather plan. Biden’s objective is to permit some oil and gasoline drilling and mining, whereas additionally working to decrease the carbon and methane gasoline emissions from these operations.
Haaland mentioned she may also deal with restoring land that has been scarred by excavation of sources such as coal and uranium. Water points such as air pollution and warming which have decreased fish shares that Indigenous individuals depend on for meals and ceremonies is one other focus.
A private precedence, Haaland mentioned, is the subject of lacking and murdered ladies in Indian Country, which on some reservations is 10 times higher than the nationwide common, in accordance to research. Native American ladies are additionally extra seemingly to be trafficked for intercourse and labor.
In New Mexico, the pleasure over Haaland’s affirmation is excessive. “It’s historical to see such a high Cabinet seat with an Indigenous woman, no less a Pueblo woman from the same ancestral landscape as those who work with Pueblo Action Alliance,” mentioned Julia Bernal, director of the nonprofit alliance and a member of the Sandia Pueblo in New Mexico. “We have our own personal connections to congresswoman Deb Haaland. Pueblo people are close, tightknit, so it’s powerful to see our kin in this position.”
That kindred spirit was mutual throughout the nation in Minnesota, the place the realization that a Native girl was now in cost of the federal arm that reaches out to American Indians was astonishing.
“Now that she is Secretary Haaland, I think we can all expect there will be a voice that is not just “familiar with” or “friendly to” tribes and tribal points however a voice that is us,” Holly Cook Macarro, chairwoman of American Indian Graduate Center, wrote in an e mail Monday.
“That said, I realize, and Secretary Haaland has already demonstrated, that she also is a leading voice on climate change, the protection of public lands, and deeply familiar with how to protect and preserve America’s treasured places for the next generations,” she mentioned. “Her responsibilities are broader than those regarding Indian country, we understand that — but it doesn’t change that she brings a tribal voice and experience that has never been heard from the secretary’s desk before.”
Macarro used the Chippewa language of her Red Lake Nation of Northern Minnesota — “Gichi-ogimaakwe” — to describe Haaland. “The highest-leader woman,” she mentioned.