Deb Haaland makes history as first Native American interior secretary

WhiteHouse.gov Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland

In 2018, Deb Haaland became one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress. With the 51 to 40 Senate confirmation vote on Monday, she made history again as the first Indigenous cabinet secretary in U.S. history.

“Today I stand on my ancestors’ shoulders ready to serve as the first Native American cabinet secretary,” tweeted Haaland on Tuesday as she invited her supporters to follow her on the official @SecDebHaaland Twitter handle.

On Tuesday, the former U.S. representative of New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District gave official farewell remarks on the House floor. “I love New Mexico. It’s my home, where I raised my child, went to college, started a small business & started organizing. It’s my ancestral homeland. As Congresswoman I’ve been able to serve NM to the fullest. And I’m proud of the work we accomplished together,” Haaland tweeted.

In Congress, she passed five bills and has advocated for progressive proposals like the Green New Deal and single-payer health care.

Haaland, who comes from a military family, is a 35th generation New Mexican who is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna, and also has Jemez Pueblo heritage. After running for New Mexico lieutenant governor in 2014, she became the first Native American woman to be elected to lead a State Party, according to her congressional website.

As interior secretary, Haaland will oversee the nation’s federal land and natural resources, and also the government-to-government relations between the U.S. and Native tribes.

She took the oath of office to become the 54th Secretary at a small ceremony with her family, according to the Interior Department. She will begin her first day in office on Wednesday.

“At my confirmation hearing, I said that we all have a stake in the future of our country. No matter your political party or zip code, your ancestral heritage or income level, we all must take the formidable challenges that lie ahead seriously, and we will take them head-on, together, ” Haaland said in a statement.

“I am proud and humbled to lead the dedicated team at Interior as we seek to leave a livable planet for future generations,” she continued. “Together, we will work to advance President Biden’s vision to honor our nation-to-nation relationship with Tribes, address the climate and nature crises, advance environmental justice, and build a clean energy future that creates good-paying jobs and powers our nation.

“The change we need will take hard work and perseverance, but I know that together there is nothing we cannot accomplish.”

Watch Haaland’s ceremonial swearing-in with Vice President Kamala Harris below:

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