In a historic first, president-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate congresswoman Deb Haaland to lead the Department of the Interior.
This is the agency that upholds the federal government’s responsibilities to the country’s 574 federally recognised Indian tribes and Alaska native villages.
If accepted, Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, would be the country’s first native American Cabinet secretary, heading the agency responsible for honouring America’s treaties with its indigenous people.
“Growing up in my mother’s Pueblo household made me fierce,” she tweeted. “I’ll be fierce for all of us, our planet, and all of our protected land.”
Aaron Weiss, of the Center for Western Priorities, told NPR, “She understands, in her case going back 30 generations, what it means to care for American lands.”
It’s not the first time Haaland has made history. In 2018, she became one of the first two native American women in Congress, along with Sharice Davids a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation from Kansas.
Haaland told NPR that, “Climate change is the challenge of our lifetime, and it’s imperative that we invest in an equitable, renewable energy economy.”
This ambition echoes Biden who has said that a transition to renewable energy will be a job creator, which makes it a no-brainer during the economic uncertainty brought on by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
No-brainer or not, Biden’s policy is guaranteed to face heavy challenges from traditional energy companies.
Mike Sommers, chief executive of the American Petroleum Institute, told NPR that, “Oil and gas resources will be critical to rebuilding our economy and maintaining America’s status as a global energy leader.”