First Native American US Secretary of Interior

By Neenah Payne

Even the West realizes we are facing the Sixth Mass Extinction. However, Native Americans Are a “Keystone Species” shows that  peoples we have been told were inferior have had a superior understanding of how to relate to the Earth for tens of thousands of years because they still follow The Original Instructions of how to live with Earth. So, it makes sense to ask Native Americans to help rescue humanity — again — as they have in multiple ways as shown in Can Native America Transform The World Again?.

The video in The Muscogee get their say in national park plan for Georgia shows that Deb Haaland, the first Native American Interior Secretary, will decide whether to recommend an act of Congress to create a new national park.

In an era when some culture warriors see government as the enemy, years of coalition-building have eliminated any significant opposition to federal management in the reliably Republican center of a long-red state. Hunting will still be allowed, even encouraged to keep feral hogs from destroying the ecosystem. Georgia’s congressional delegation is on board, and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation has been welcomed as an essential partner.



Secretary Deb Haaland made history when she became the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary. She is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and a 35th generation New Mexican.

Secretary Haaland grew up in a military family; her father was a 30-year combat Marine who was awarded the Silver Star Medal for saving six lives in Vietnam, and her mother is a Navy veteran who served as a federal employee for 25 years at the Bureau of Indian Affairs. As a military child, she attended 13 public schools before graduating from Highland High School in Albuquerque.

As a single mother, Secretary Haaland volunteered at her child’s pre-school to afford early childhood education. Like many parents, she had to rely on food stamps at times as a single parent, lived paycheck-to-paycheck, and struggled to put herself through college. At the age of 28, Haaland enrolled at the University of New Mexico (UNM) where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and later earned her J.D. from UNM Law School. Secretary Haaland and her child, who also graduated from the University of New Mexico, are still paying off student loans.

Secretary Haaland ran her own small business producing and canning Pueblo Salsa, served as a tribal administrator at San Felipe Pueblo, and became the first woman elected to the Laguna Development Corporation Board of Directors, overseeing business operations of the second largest tribal gaming enterprise in New Mexico. She successfully advocated for the Laguna Development Corporation to create policies and commitments to environmentally friendly business practices.

Throughout her career in public service, Secretary Haaland has broken barriers and opened the doors of opportunity for future generations.  After running for New Mexico Lieutenant Governor in 2014, Secretary Haaland became the first Native American woman to be elected to lead a State Party. She is one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress. In Congress, she focused on environmental justice, climate change, missing and murdered indigenous women, and family-friendly policies.

Washington Post: With historic picks, Biden puts environmental justice front and center.

The selection of the first Native American interior secretary and first Black male EPA chief highlights pollution disparities.

President-elect Joe Biden chose Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) Thursday to serve as the first Native American Cabinet secretary and head the Interior Department, a historic pick that marks a turning point for the U.S. government’s relationship with the nation’s Indigenous peoples….

Now, after serving a single term in Congress, she will oversee a department that manages roughly one-fifth of land in the U.S. While she hails from a top oil-and gas-producing state, Haaland has pledged to transform the department from a champion of fossil fuel development into a promoter of renewable energy and policies to mitigate climate change….

Jim Enote, a Zuni tribal member and chief executive of the Native-led Colorado Plateau Foundation, said in an interview that the move signals how much has changed over the past half-century. Native Americans “do not participate in the same channels of influence as other Americans,” he said, and some previous Interior secretaries have held a dismissive attitude toward the country’s first inhabitants.

New York Times: Deb Haaland Becomes First Native American Cabinet Secretary

The Senate confirmed Ms. Haaland to lead the Interior Department. She’ll be charged with essentially reversing the agency’s course over the past four years.

Beyond the Interior Department’s responsibility for the well-being of the nation’s 1.9 million Native people, it oversees about 500 million acres of public land, federal waters off the United States coastline, a huge system of dams and reservoirs across the Western United States and the protection of thousands of endangered species. “A voice like mine has never been a Cabinet secretary or at the head of the Department of Interior,” she wrote on Twitter before the vote. “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.”

Ms. Haaland is expected to quickly halt new drilling, reinstate wildlife conservation rules, rapidly expand wind and solar power on public lands and waters, and place the Interior Department at the center of Mr. Biden’s climate agenda.

Biden taps Deb Haaland to be first Native American interior secretary — CBS News

President-elect Joe Biden has chosen New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland to head the Interior Department, which would make her the first Native American to lead the agency that oversees the country’s natural resources and public and tribal lands if she is confirmed by the Senate.

Tribal leaders and organizers had pushed Mr. Biden to choose Haaland, a member of Pueblo of Laguna, a tribe that has lived on the land that is now New Mexico for eight centuries. The Interior Department has long had a contentious relationship with the 574 federally recognized tribes, and Haaland’s nomination indicates that the Biden administration is willing to listen and address the concerns of Indigenous people….

Although she was only elected to Congress in 2018, Haaland’s record on climate change has encouraged activists…. Haaland’s nomination was supported by a broad coalition of tribal leaders, celebrities, climate activists and other members of Congress. “She has been a champion for our environment and public lands and has worked tirelessly to improve the nation-to-nation relationship between the United States and Indian tribes,” more than 50 House members wrote in a letter to Biden last month.

This month, in another letter, over 120 tribal leaders urged the president-elect to nominate Haaland, saying “it is long past time that a Native American person serve as Secretary of the Interior.

“Representative Haaland has championed the environment, helped lead efforts to address climate change, and worked to improve the nation-to-nation relationship between our Tribes and the United States — all issues within the Department of the Interior’s responsibilities,” the letter obtained by CBS News said.

Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month —  a good time to learn more about these ancient cultures whose guidance may be humanity’s best guide to survive now.

For more information:

  1. Water Is Life Festival: September 4
  2. Native America’s Gifts To The World
  3. Native Americans Are a “Keystone Species”
  4. Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples’ Day?
  5. Why We Must Be Honest This Thanksgiving
  6. Celebrating Native American Heritage Month
  7. 100 Year Anniversary of Santa Fe Indian Market
  8. Can Native America Transform The World Again?
  9. Native American Day: Learning The Way of Earth
  10. Growing Calls To Repudiate “Doctrine of Discovery”
  11. How Reconciliation With Native America Can Save Us

Neenah Payne writes for Activist Post and Natural Blaze

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