President-elect Biden delivered groundbreaking news to Indian Country on Thursday, Dec. 17, when he announced the nomination of Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) to be the next Secretary of the Interior. Haaland, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna, will be the first Native American to hold a Cabinet-level position in the federal government.
Haaland’s nomination gained momentum in recent weeks from a grassroots social media campaign, #DebforInterior. Many high-profile tribal leaders, community organizers, and celebrities spoke out in support of her nomination.
As Haaland emerged as Biden’s top pick for Secretary of the Interior, there was some concern that her nomination would further narrow the Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Despite the potential challenges that may arise from waiting for special elections to fill empty seats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi strongly supported Haaland’s nomination.
Haaland gained the nomination over other strong candidates for the job. In particular, Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), who is retiring from the Senate at the end of the year, was being considered as well.
The Biden-Harris transition team is also seeking candidates for thousands of federal government positions, boards, and commissions. Positions include the White House, every federal agency, and part-time commitments to boards and commissions that cover cultural resources, river management, education, fisheries, and much more. To submit application information, visit https://buildbackbetter.gov/join-us/.
The Biden-Harris transition team also continues to coordinate with Indian Country on priorities and policies for the incoming administration. Team members have been holding conference calls with tribal leaders, and they are encouraging tribes to submit briefing papers and their priorities.