December 21, 2020

Deb Haaland’s Nomination Resonates in Native Community

Debra Haaland, interior secretary

Today, I am ecstatic about the nomination of Deb Haaland as Interior Secretary, the hopes of Native people have finally been answered. The voices of the original inhabitants will now be heard on issues such as the land and the water. Enterprise celebrates with our partners and Native American communities across the nation with President-elect Joe Biden’s nomination of New Mexico Congresswoman, Deb Haaland as the secretary of the Interior Department. As a member of the Laguna Pueblo Tribe, Representative Haaland’s nomination is momentous; she will be the first Native American cabinet member, the first Native American Interior Secretary. Representative Haaland is not new to first. She became the first Native American woman to be elected to lead a State Party and one of the first two Native women to be elected to congress.

“A voice like mine has never been a Cabinet secretary or at the head of the Department of Interior,” Haaland tweeted Thursday night. “ ... I’ll be fierce for all of us, our planet, and all of our protected land.” This is a historic celebration for a department that oversees and protects the country’s public lands and natural resources, tribal lands and treaties made with Tribes.

LeAnn Montes, Attorney General for the Cree Tribe, law school classmate of Representative Haaland recently shared with me, “I strongly believe Debra Haaland will continue to be a powerful voice of our Native people. The unprecedented appointment as the first Native American to serve as the Secretary of the Interior is a game changer and creates an opportunity for tribal governments to streamline their concerns without fear of being unheard.” 

Haaland has a notable record of being a champion and steward for rural and native communities. In 2016, Debra Haaland cooked green chili and tortillas at the Standing Rock Sioux camps pitched against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Bringing food was her traditional way of contributing to the fight against the $3.8 billion pipeline.

I know the struggle many families face – piecing together health care, relying on food stamps to make ends meet, and even bunking on families’ couches because housing was too expensive. Families in our country are resilient, but we have an economic system that keeps people down leaving many families to bear the burden of poverty. The barriers that stand in the way range from lack of access to education and job training and outrageous health care prices to lack of affordable childcare and rising housing costs without wages keeping up. As the Vice Chair on Families and Children Living in Poverty, I plan to use my experience as a single mom and the stories that I hear from families in my district to tackle issues that will end cycles of poverty in New Mexico and across the country,” said Congresswoman Haaland.

Similarly, Enterprise has also made a national commitment to changing the way we evaluate our impact through a racial equity lens. This groundbreaking nomination illuminates Enterprise’s mission to elevate racial equity and to build resilience and upward mobility in our new strategic plan. Having someone who knows the plight of the racial inequities, and who serves as a champion for rural and Native Americans, inspires me to continue my work on the  Rural and Native American team here at Enterprise.

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