Secretary of the Interior
Advocate for Native American Affairs
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Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s life has been marked by breaking barriers––whether she was earning her juris doctor as a single mother, running for lieutenant governor, or becoming one of two Native American women ever elected to the House.
But beyond making history, the driving force behind her career has always been service to Native communities like her own, the Laguna Pueblo tribe. As the first Native person to hold a Cabinet post, she intends to focus on the needs of Native Indian and Alaska Native communities, including educational resources, law enforcement, social services, disaster relief, and the sacred task of conserving and restoring tribal culture.
On the job just a few weeks, Haaland has already made her mark. She’s met with lawmakers and Navajo tribal leaders at Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and announced the formation of a new unit to investigate missing and murdered Native Americans.
Serving on the heels of the Trump administration, which often downplayed climate change, Haaland will bring a very different approach. A cosponsor of the Green New Deal during her time in Congress, she is expected to spotlight climate-justice initiatives on public lands.
Approach and Motivations
Excerpted from Deb‘s Vignette profile
Career in tribal affairs, Native American heritage, and personal passion for environmental stewardship inform her progressive policy and advocacy agenda
- Cites experience as a Native American single mother who often lived paycheck to paycheck and received federal assistance as giving her first-hand insight into the importance of the work done by the Interior Department and other federal agencies; to give voice to the challenges other Native people face, she instituted an open-door policy in her congressional office for members of any tribe to meet with her on Native American affairs
- Brings a personal and in-depth legislative understanding of the nuanced issues in Native American policy as a former tribal administrator and through involvement in congressional committees and caucuses, including as former cochair of the Native American Caucus alongside Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma
- A self-described “proud progressive,” Haaland is a former member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and aligns closely with the group’s legislative goals such as the Green New Deal and Medicare-for-all; despite her progressive ideology, Haaland views her role at Interior as helping President Biden, who is more politically moderate than she is, carry out his policy agenda
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