Tribal leaders encourage senators to confirm first Native American as Secretary of the Interior

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Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., listens as President-elect Joe Biden announces her as his nominee for Secretary of Interior at The Queen Theater in Wilmington Del., Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., listens as President-elect Joe Biden announces her as his nominee for Secretary of Interior at The Queen Theater in Wilmington Del., Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (KFOR) – Leaders of major Native American tribes are encouraging senators to confirm President Biden’s pick for Secretary of the Interior.

Earlier this month, leaders of the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes virtually met for their quarterly meeting.

During the meeting, the leaders passed a resolution that supported the confirmation of U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) as Secretary of the Interior.

If confirmed by the Senate, Haaland would be the first American Indian to serve in the Presidential Cabinet. She would also be the first American Indian to serve as the Secretary of the Interior.

Haaland is an enrolled citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna.

“Deb Haaland is uniquely qualified to serve as Secretary of the Interior,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “As a graduate of the University of New Mexico Law School and a former tribal administrator, Congresswoman Haaland has firsthand knowledge of tribal governance. She is a trailblazer. The nomination of an American Indian to a cabinet-level position is groundbreaking, and it is long overdue. As a champion of tribal sovereignty, Haaland is an excellent choice to lead the Department of the Interior.”

As Secretary of the Interior, Haaland would be charged with leading divisions of the federal government that are critical to Indian Country.

“Rep. Haaland is well-qualified to serve as the first Native American Secretary of the Interior,” said Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby. “I believe her nomination illustrates a unique understanding of the importance of Native involvement in vital policy decisions affecting the citizens of tribal nations.”

During her time in Congress, Haaland has served as Vice Chair of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, as the Chair of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, and as a member of the subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States.

“Native voices should always be involved in discussions that impact Native communities,” said Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief David Hill. “We not only support the confirmation of Congresswoman Haaland as Secretary of the Interior, but we also ask that her selection to a cabinet-level position be only the beginning of more Native representation in the federal government, at all levels.”

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