National Native organization responds to confirmation of Deb Haaland as Interior Secretary

Washington, DC —Today, the United States Congress confirmed the appointment of Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) for the U.S. Secretary for the Department of the Interior, making her the first Native American to serve in the U.S. cabinet. The following statement from Judith Le Blanc (Caddo), director of Native Organizers Alliance, an organization dedicated to building a civic engagement support network of Native leaders and grassroots organizers, can be quoted in-part or in-full.


“The impact of Deb Haaland’s confirmation as Secretary of the Interior can’t be understated. For the first time, we will have a person who looks like us and who, like us, shares a deep understanding of our ancestral responsibilities to care for the sacred lands and waters of this country.

For thousands of years before settlers arrived, our Native ancestors protected and cultivated our lands, a commitment which must be shared by all who live on this land. We pray for the earth as a living being, and understand we must work together to maintain balance with the natural world. This isn’t something we have to explain to Secretary Haaland. Our shared experiences connect us.

Given her vast experience in natural resources and tribal sovereignty, we hope that Secretary Haaland will help shape a new era where tribes are informed long before decisions are made, and give consent at all phases of the project.

For too long, pipelines, large-scale infrastructure projects like dams, mining, and more, have been pushed through without proper consultation with, and the consent of, tribal nations. Many times, this is in direct violation of the treaties and the U.S. Constitution. The end result of this flawed process is degraded and destroyed sacred lands, waters, fish, and wildlife. When our natural resources are carefully managed and protected, we all benefit.

As an organization dedicated to uplifting the voices and supporting the rights of Native nations across the U.S., we call on the Department of Interior to protect our sacred places, especially Bears Ears, the Grand Canyon, Chaco Canyon, the Arctic, Mauna Kea,  Missouri River and Oak Flat.

The work ahead to protect our sacred places is the work our ancestors began long before us. It is an historic moment to have a Laguna Pueblo woman in this leadership position who shares our understanding of the sanctity of our natural resources. We look forward to the department forging new and stronger relationships with sovereign tribal nations.”