Over 35 grassroots Native American organizations affiliated with the Indigenous Environmental Network sent a letter to President-elect Joe Biden advocating for New Mexico Representative Deb Haaland to be appointed Secretary of the Department of the Interior. It would be a historical first for Representative Haaland to head the Department of Interior as the first Indigenous woman to head the department. Without ties to fossil fuel financing, Haaland will be able to address the climate emergency while also strengthening nation-to-nation relationships with Native tribes, Alaska Natives, and insular areas, respecting self-determination, Free, Prior and Informed Consent and sovereignty. Representative Haaland has intimate knowledge of all of this, being an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo and possessing a Juris Doctorate with an emphasis in Federal Indian Law making her the best candidate to head the Department of Interior.
The letter lays out seven reasons to tap Representative Haaland for the position:
- Educate and empower Indigenous Peoples to address and develop strategies for the protection of our environment, our health, and all life forms – the Circle of Life.
- Reaffirm our traditional knowledge and respect of natural laws.
- Recognize, support, and promote environmentally sound lifestyles, economic livelihoods, and the building of healthy sustaining Indigenous communities.
- Commit to influence policies that affect Indigenous Peoples on a local, tribal, state, regional, national and international level.
- Include youth and elders in all levels of our work.
- Acknowledge the natural role and build upon the power of Indigenous women standing up to protect the sacredness of Mother Earth.
- Protect our human rights to practice our cultural and spiritual beliefs.
Recently, Indigenous Environmental Network was one of the organizations who worked with Representative Haaland to create the foundation for a resolution that lays out a bold plan for economic renewal known as the Agenda to Transform, Heal, and Renew by Investing in a Vibrant Economy, or THRIVE Agenda which recently hit 100 Congressional sign-ons.
“An Indigenous woman overseeing the management of the United State’s occupied land, water and natural resources would be a historic moment and a turning point towards healing the relationship between the colonial government and the original peoples of this land.” said Tom BK Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network .” For too long the voices of Indigenous peoples of this land have been erased, the time has long past to center them.”