Penobscot Nation Lauds Nomination Of First Native American To Presidential Cabinet
Penobscot Nation commends First Native American nomination to the Presidential Cabinet
Native people across the country, including leaders of the Penobscot Nation in Maine, are pleased to announce the appointment of New Mexico Representative Deb Haaland as head of the Home Office.
Haaland would be the first Native American woman to hold a cabinet position, but her selection by President-elect Joe Biden is historically significant for other reasons, and many say it is long overdue.
Haaland is a member of the Laguna Pueblo and one of the first two Indian women to be elected to Congress. She is a political progressive in support of the Green New Deal and currently serves as Vice Chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, where she is heavily critical of oil and gas drilling. She has worked in the past to balance public land with tourism and deal with tribal issues, all of which are overseen by the Home Office.
“It’s a level of representation we’ve never had before,” says Maulian Dana, tribal ambassador for the Penobscot Nation.
Dana says that if Haaland is confirmed it will be both symbolic and transformative for the indigenous people.
“Historically, our land, resources and people have only been decimated by colonization. So it is truly a miracle to have a powerful leader in the halls of the United States government, and we all just feel so proud and strong.” , she says.
As home secretary, Haaland’s jurisdiction would cover hundreds of millions of acres of public land as well as oil and gas wells. The department’s offices include the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency is also responsible for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Education and the Bureau of Trust Funds Administration, which are responsible for Indian trust funds.
According to Dana, the federal government has consistently failed to meet its contractual obligations.
“I think what people don’t understand about the federal government’s fiduciary responsibility to tribal nations is that it’s not welfare, it’s not handouts, it’s not the government that funds special interest groups. These are things that were paid for in the blood of our ancestors, ”she says.
Dana said Haaland’s appointment will mark a fresh start for a department that also has a legacy of separating local children from their families and opening up sacred land for mining and drilling.
Maine 1st District U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree says she is eager to have Haaland’s indigenous perspective and experience to run an agency that has been providing giveaways for the fossil fuel industry for four years.
“I just think it will be a world of its own. Here’s someone who understands that we are facing challenges related to climate change – it’s a new day and she’s going to have a whole new perspective that is so important, “she says.
The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association urges Haaland to take a “balanced approach” to their work.
“Responsible energy development in federal states is an essential part of our country’s economy,” the group said in a statement. And their nomination is likely to be pushed back by the fossil fuel industry.
As for Haaland, she said in a tweet that growing up in her mother’s Pueblo household made her violent.
“I’ll be fierce for all of us,” she said. “For our planet and all of our protected countries.”