President-elect Joe Biden will choose Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) to be Secretary of the Interior, the Washington Post reported. If nominated and confirmed, Haaland, a member of Pueblo of Laguna, would be the first Native American to lead the department, which is charged with protecting America’s natural resources as well as tribal communities and lands.
Citing a person familiar with the decision, CNN said Haaland was chosen because she has “spent her career fighting for all Americans, including tribal nations, rural communities, and communities of color.”
A day before news of the selection broke, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement endorsing the choice. Since Haaland leaving the House would narrow the Democrats’ already small majority, Pelosi’s statement essentially gave the transition the go-ahead to select her. “Congresswoman Haaland knows the territory,” Pelosi said, “And if she is the President-elect’s choice for Interior Secretary, then he will have made an excellent choice.”
This would not be the first time Haaland has made history. In 2014 she became the first Native American leader of a state party when she headed the New Mexico Democratic Party, and when she entered Congress in 2018, she was one of the first Indigenous women elected to serve in the House.
In this new role, Haaland hopes to reverse some of the damage done by the Trump administration. Under Trump’s leadership, the US has shrunk its national parks by historic amounts, ignored the climate change crisis, and harmed relationships with Native American tribes. “It would be an honor to move the Biden-Harris climate agenda forward, help repair the government to government relationship with Tribes that the Trump Administration has ruined, and serve as the first Native American cabinet secretary in our nation’s history,” Haaland said in a statement in November.