FARMINGTON – The U.S. Senate confirmed New Mexico representative Deb Haaland to be secretary of the Interior Department, making her the first Native American to be nominated and confirmed for a Cabinet post.
“This is a proud and historic day for Indigenous peoples everywhere, for New Mexico and for the United States of America,” N.M. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a news release. “Secretary Haaland has made history – and I could not be more proud to know her as a colleague and friend, as a fighter for all, a believer in creating a more just and equitable society.”
Haaland was confirmed Monday on a 51-40 vote. She is among the first Native American women to serve in Congress along with Sharice Davids, D-Kansas.
“As a volunteer, activist and organizer for more than 20 years, it was my proudest professional moment to be elected as one of the first two Native American women to serve in Congress,” Haaland said in a news release.
In Haaland’s news release, she outlined her accomplishments while in Congress, including efforts to solve cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women, and work on climate change and environmental and economic justice.
“I feel immensely satisfied to have been able to accomplish so much for New Mexico families in such a short amount of time, and I’m grateful to my team for their hard work and all the New Mexicans who called, wrote and shared their input over the past two years,” Haaland said.
As Interior secretary, Haaland will be responsible for managing public lands and minerals, national parks and wildlife refuges. She will also be responsible for upholding the federal trust responsibilities to Native American tribes and Native Alaskans.
“Her leadership at Interior will not only help reverse the harmful policies of the last four years but chart a new, balanced and productive course for the future,” Grisham said. “I greatly look forward to working with the secretary on the issues that matter to tribes and pueblos and to all New Mexicans.”
Haaland submitted her resignation to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday effective immediately.
“I am excited to become the first Native American Cabinet secretary in history, although I also feel a sense of sadness in preparing for this new role,” Haaland wrote in her resignation letter. “As the daughter of a 30-year combat Marine who grew up traveling our country, and a single mom who relied on food stamps to get by, I never imagined a day like this.”
Now that Haaland leaves a vacancy, there will be a special election held in 2021, with no primary election. The date of the special election has not yet been determined.