A New Mexico congresswoman is President-elect Biden’s selection to lead the Interior Department. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, U.S. Representative Debra Haaland, a Democrat, would make history by becoming the first Native American to head the Interior and hold a presidential Cabinet post. As Interior Secretary, Deb Haaland, who will also be just the third woman to hold the job, will ensure all voices are heard, including historically underrepresented indigenous voices, when making decisions about the lands that belong to all U.S. inhabitants.
Under the umbrella of the Department of the Interior is the National Park Service, including Sequoia and Kings Canyon, and Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education, which includes Native American populations. But with this centuries-long oversight of the native peoples comes a long history of broken treaties, genocide, poverty, and destruction of land and culture. In reality, the indigenous peoples are the original conservationists of this land now known as the United States who greatly respected the Earth and its finite resources. Interior Secretary pick would
In addition to the NPS and the Indian bureaus, other DOI agencies are: Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Bureau of Trust Funds Administration, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation & Enforcement, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey.
National Parks Conservation Association President and CEO Theresa Pierno said Rep. Haaland has been a champion for conservation in Congress, and has “championed important issues ranging from reinstating Bears Ears National Monument to the Great American Outdoors Act, to conserving lands surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park from rampant oil and gas development.”
National Park Foundation president and CEO Will Shafroth said the Foundation “congratulates Representative Deb Haaland on her historic selection to head the Department of the Interior in President-elect Biden’s administration. We are confident that national parks and public lands will be in good hands under her leadership. She is a strong champion for these wonderful places, demonstrated by her leadership role as Chair of the House Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands. Representative Haaland recognizes the value and importance of the more than 400 natural, cultural, and historical parks that reflect all of our stories.”
As the 54th Secretary of the Interior, Rep. Haaland will face the challenges of leading and supporting thousands of employees through the global pandemic while also tackling challenges ranging from chronic overcrowding in the national parks to restoring protections for endangered wildlife. And with the climate crisis forever altering and threatening destruction the nation’s parks through melting glaciers, increasingly disastrous wildfires, and unprecedented hurricanes and cyclones, Haaland, a supporter of the Green New Deal, will work to reverse this existential crisis. Interior Secretary pick would
The congresswoman, 60, represents New Mexico’s First Congressional District (includes Albuquerque), is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna, has Jemez Pueblo heritage, and is a 35th-generation New Mexican. She was elected to the House of Representatives in 2019, one of the first Native American women in Congress, and has served as vice chair of the Natural Resources Committee and is chair of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands.
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