Late Monday evening, the U.S. Senate confirmed Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) for the role of Secretary of the Interior, making her the first Native American to head a cabinet agency in U.S. history. She was confirmed on a 51-40 vote, per The Washington Post.
A voice like mine has never been a Cabinet secretary or at the head of the Department of Interior.
Growing up in my mother’s Pueblo household made me fierce. I’ll be fierce for all of us, our planet, and all of our protected land.
I am honored and ready to serve.
— Deb Haaland (@DebHaalandNM) December 18, 2020
Haaland, a former New Mexico Native American Caucus Chair, was elected to Congress in 2018, serving since January 2019. She identifies as a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe and is a 35th Generation New Mexican resident.
In her new role as secretary of the interior, she will be tasked with managing natural resources in the U.S., encapsulating about 500 million acres of public land and waters in and along the country.
Conservation is also a key component of the Interior Department, alongside working to ensure energy security and independence for the U.S.
The secretary of the interior is also tasked with overseeing the U.S. government’s relationships with Native American and Alaskan Native tribes.
As part of the progressive Biden administration, she will likely work to cease oil drilling projects on public lands and implement environmental regulations in an effort to use the department’s power to help reverse the effects of and prevent climate change.
Haaland’s nomination and confirmation is not the only inclusive milestone for the department; in February, National Parks Service veteran Pamela Smith was nominated to lead the U.S. Park Police, becoming the first Black woman in the leadership position.