Washington D.C.—The final day of confirmation hearings for Rep. Deb Haaland was held February 24 regarding her nomination by President Biden for Secretary of the Dept. of the Interior. If confirmed, Haaland would be the first Native American to hold a seat in a Presidential cabinet.
"Rep. Deb Haaland's confirmation hearing showed what we already knew—she is the right person to lead the Department of the Interior," said Judith Le Blanc, executive director of Native Organizers Alliance. "She has a deep understanding of land management, has proven she can work across the aisle on issues, and cares deeply about rural communities and the working class. She also carries with her the responsibilities of both our ancestors and descendants to bring about a new way of balance between the immediate and future energy needs of the nation. "
Le Blanc pointed to the role of special interests in opposing Haaland's nomination. "During the first day of the hearing, the over eight million dollars in campaign donations made to members of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee was reflected in questions distorting the Biden administration's energy and climate positions," she said. "Meeting our country's energy needs are a concern for all and should not be determined by oil and gas special interests."
More than 20,000 letters have been sent in the past week from Native people to their state's senators urging them to confirm Haaland as Interior Secretary. More than 200 tribal leaders have signed a letter to Congress urging the same. And we won’t stop until Rep. Haaland is confirmed as the Interior Secretary.
"In the recent elections, we showed the country the power of the Native vote in deciding the results of the election in key states," Le Blanc added. "The Native vote was key to President Biden’s victory in key states as well as victories for state officials across the country. After hundreds of years, the power and influence of the Native vote made it possible for Rep. Haaland to be nominated. Grassroots advocacy and Native civic engagement and not campaign contributions from extractive industries should be the major factor in the direction of the Department of the Interior.
"The Department of the Interior has played a significant role in the attempted erasure of Native people and culture for centuries, and it continues to make decisions that directly impacts the lives of all Native people today," Le Blanc concluded. "For an Indigenous woman to step into this role means real change is in the making. It reflects a reckoning with the long history of systemic racism.”