The United States Senate on March 15 has confirmed Deb Haaland as interior secretary, making her the first Indigenous person to lead a Cabinet department in U.S. history.
The Senate confirmed the New Mexico Representative with a vote of 51-40, the narrowest margin so far for a Cabinet nomination by President Joe Biden.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hailed Haaland’s confirmation as “a gigantic step forward in creating a government that represents the full richness and diversity of this country.”
“Native Americans for far too long have been neglected at the Cabinet level and in so many other places,” Schumer also said.
Indigenous organizations also hailed Haaland’s confirmation as “historic.”
“Today’s historic confirmation sets us on a better path to righting the wrongs of the past with the Federal government and inspires hope in our people, especially our young people,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement.
“The impact of Native American representation at the top of a federal agency that so directly affects our daily lives cannot be overstated,” National Congress of American Indians President Fawn Sharp said in a statement.
“Having an ally like Secretary Haaland who is not only deeply qualified but is from our communities has the potential to transform the government-to-government relationship and will be vital in advancing Native American issues for generations,” Sharp further stated.
As interior secretary, Haaland, who is a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, will oversee the country’s land, seas, and natural resources. She will also be responsible for upholding legally binding treaty obligations of the government to the nearly 600 federally recognized tribes across the country.
“I am ready to serve,” Haaland stated in a tweet shortly after her confirmation.
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