- THIS page is currently under construction. Debra “Deb” Haaland was born on December 2, 1960 in Winslow, Arizona. She graduated from the University of New Mexico (UNM) in 1994 with a Bachelor’s degree in English and later obtained her J.D. from UNM’s law school in 2006. Haaland is a member of the Laguna Pueblo, a […]
THIS page is currently under construction.
Debra “Deb” Haaland was born on December 2, 1960 in Winslow, Arizona. She graduated from the University of New Mexico (UNM) in 1994 with a Bachelor’s degree in English and later obtained her J.D. from UNM’s law school in 2006. Haaland is a member of the Laguna Pueblo, a Native American tribe recognized by the federal government.
Haaland’s early professional experience included a stint during which she oversaw a small salsa company (producing and canning Pueblo Salsa) and served on the Board of Directors for the Laguna Development Corporation, which oversaw business operations for the Pueblo of the Laguna. She also worked as Tribal Ambassador for San Felipe Pueblo in New Mexico. She volunteered in both the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections to boost Native American turnout in New Mexico for John Kerry and Barack Obama. In 2012, Haaland served as the Native American Vote Director for the 2012 Obama reelection campaign in New Mexico. From 2012-2013, she served as the New Mexico Democratic Party’s Native American Caucus Chair.
In 2014, Haaland ran as the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico. But she and gubernatorial candidate Gary King were handily defeated in the general election by Republicans Susana Martinez and John Sanchez. Following that election, Haaland led the New Mexico Democratic Party as Chairwoman from 2015-2017.
In 2017, Haaland launched a campaign to represent New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House of representatives. Running in a predominantly liberal district, Haaland solidified her progressive credentials with her support of Medicare for All, a $15 federal minimum wage, government-funded universal pre-K, all manner of Native American causes, and aggressive measures aimed at combatting climate change. She also appeared at a Stop Kavanaugh rally, sponsored by People for the American Way, to oppose the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court in September 2018.
Haaland’s campaign received the endorsements of such notable leftists as Barack Obama, Karen Bass, James Clyburn, Barbara Lee, Harry Reid, Hank Johnson, Pramila Jayapal, David Cicilline, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Ted Lieu, Cedric Richmond, Gregory Meeks, Lucille Roybal-Allard, and Gwen Moore. She was likewise endorsed by such notable organizations as the Congressional Black Caucus, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the National Organization for Women, the Working Families Party of New Mexico, the American Federation of Teachers New Mexico, 350 Action, and EMILY’s List.
During her time in the House, Haaland served as Co-Chair of the Native American Caucus and Vice Chair of the Equality Caucus. She was also a member of the Democratic Women’s Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus. According to Vote Smart, Haaland was amongst the most leftwing members of Congress based upon her voting record from 2019-2021. Her voting record earned her 100% ratings from NARAL Pro-Choice America, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the Human Rights Campaign, the NAACP, the National Education Association, the League of Conservation Voters, and the National Iranian American Council.
As a Congresswoman, Haaland:
was an original co-sponsor of the Justice in Policing Act (“I fully support its measures to increase accountability for police misconduct, enhance transparency and data collection, and work to eliminate discriminatory policing practices.?)
opposed Operation Legend, a Trump-era policy authorizing the deployment of agents from various federal agencies to assist city and county law-enforcement officers in quelling riots and civil disturbances (“I helped amend H.R. 7617 … to effectively defund Operation Legend…. [A]s Trump sends officers into our cities, they continue to hurt people and abuse their power.”)
supported a ban on fracking (“The fossil fuel industry makes billions by putting our communities in harm’s way. We have a methane cloud above NM that can be seen from space, because the gas and oil industry refuses to clean up their mess. Extreme weather fueled by climate change creates massive droughts. I support a ban on fracking.”)
opposed oil and gas leasing on federal land
favored a pathway-to-citizenship for illegal aliens (“I’m fighting for comprehensive immigration reform providing citizenship pathways for undocumented immigrants and Dreamers. I support DACA/DAPA and expanding them into permanent pathways to citizenship.”)
opposed the creation of a wall along America’s southern border with Mexico (“Stealing $125 million from our military bases to pay for Trump’s wasteful, ineffective wall is not the answer.”)
endorsed a ban on semi-automatic rifles (“I’m … an original cosponsor of the Assault Weapons Ban. Mass-shooting related homicides in the U.S. were reduced during the federal assault weapons ban of 1994-2004. We must enact gun buyback programs.”)
favored a government-run single-payer health system (“I was an original cosponsor of Medicare for All, and will continue supporting a national single-payer health care system…. Countries who have this model pay less for health care and have better outcomes.”)
promoted public funding for abortion and contraceptives (“I oppose all restrictions on public funding that limit people’s ability to access contraception or abortion.”)
In January 2019, Haaland was outraged by an incident that occurred following the anti-abortion “March For Life” in Washington, D.C., when numerous media outlets falsely accused a group of male students from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky who had attended the March — and a few of whom were wearing “Make America Great Again” hats signifying their support for President Trump — of: (a) surrounding and menacing a nearby elderly Native American activist/Vietnam War veteran named Nathan Phillips; (b) hurling racist chants at Phillips; (c) taunting a group of black men who were also in the vicinity; (d) shouting “it’s not rape if you enjoy it”; and (e) shouting “Build the wall!” (a reference to Trump’s proposed construction of a border wall). But video evidence subsequently showed that: (a) the Catholic youngsters had not made any of the offensive remarks originally attributed to them; (b) Phillips, who never actually served in Vietnam, had walked purposefully into the middle of the group of boys and stared down one of them while banging a drum and chanting just a few inches from the boy’s face; and (c) the nearby black men were in fact members of a racist, anti-Semitic cult known as the Black Hebrew Israelites, and they had been hurling racial and homophobic epithets at the boys.
Among the various initial false statements that Haaland made immediately about the January incident was that: “The students’ blatant display of hate, disrespect, and intolerance is a signal of how common decency has decayed under this [Trump] administration.”
In August 2019, the parents of eight of the Covington Catholic students sued Haaland for defamation.
“The pain our country feels is rooted in generations of institutional racism. We recognize that the anger in our communities is a sincere and justifiable reaction to the long-standing failure to reform those institutions — especially our criminal justice system. Even amid a global pandemic that is disproportionality impacting people of color, the circumstances are too much for many to bear silently or alone….Though we will never know the experience of being Black in America, we know that Indian Country stands in solidarity with our Black brothers and sisters—committed to fighting for justice and channeling our frustration into meaningful action and change. Together we can build a more equitable and just society—one that lives up to the ideals we expect of our nation.”
On behalf of the Joe Biden–Kamala Harris ticket, Haaland, warning that “our constitution is under attack,” urged Americans to register to vote and support Democrats in the 2020 elections. Speaking during the final night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Haaland praised the “sacred” and “fundamental right to vote” as the means by which the American people could promote “social, racial, and environmental justice.”
Haaland easily won reelection to the House on November 3, 2020 when she captured 58% of the vote against Republican Michelle Garcia Holmes.
In December 2020, President-elect Joe Biden selected Haaland to serve as his Secretary of the Interior. In this role, Haaland is responsible for overseeing the maintenance and preservation of federal land and natural resources. The Biden-Harris team described Haaland as a “barrier-breaking public servant who has spent her career fighting for families, including in Tribal Nations, rural communities, and communities of color.” Haaland was eventually confirmed by the U.S. Senate in March 2021, by a vote of 51-40.
On her second full day in office, Secretary Haaland issued a statement condemning the spate of incidents where white racists and supremacists were allegedly carrying out “anti-Asian” violence in cities and towns across the United States:
“While anti-Asian hate is unfortunately not new, we must acknowledge how xenophobic rhetoric throughout the pandemic has further inflamed anti-Asian racism, misogyny, and violence. The scale and frequency of targeted violence against communities of color is unacceptable and serves as a grim reminder that our long march toward peace and liberation persists.”
As Wilfred Reilly of Commentary magazine pointed out in May 2021, whites had very little to do with whatever violence was being directed against Asians in America.
On March 31, 2021, Haaland’s office released another statement in which the Secretary commemorated the “Transgender Day of Visibility”:
“There is nothing more powerful in this world than the act of living openly, authentically, and safely. On this Trans Day of Visibility, we recognize the hard-fought victories won by and for the transgender community, honor the transgender loved ones we’ve lost along the way, and recommit to the struggle for full equality. Transgender people continue to face an unacceptable epidemic of violence and harmful discrimination in access to health care, employment, and housing. Trans people are our neighbors, our family, our friends, and our colleagues, and they deserve to live with dignity and to be treated fairly in every part of life. Today, and every day, we stand in solidarity with the transgender community as we both celebrate our progress and continue our long march toward liberation, peace, and equality.”
At the June 2021 midyear conference of the National Congress of American Indians, Haaland announced her plans for the Interior Department’s newly created “Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative.” The plan was adopted after the bodily remains of more than 200 Indian students were found within the grounds of 19th-century boarding schools located in British Columbia, Canada. That discovery caused Haaland and the Biden administration to resolve that the U.S. should investigate its own boarding schools that had previously housed Native Americans long ago. Said Haaland in the course of her speech:
Another issue that is so personal to me is the devastating history of the U.S. government’s boarding school policies. Like many of you was, I was deeply impacted by the news of 215 Indigenous children found in a mass grave at a boarding school in Canada. I couldn’t help but think of their families…. I wept with the Indigenous members of our team here at Interior. Our communities are still mourning. The federal policies that attempted to wipe out Native identity, language and culture continued to manifest in the pain our communities face, including long-standing intergenerational trauma cycles of violence and abuse disappearance of Indigenous people, premature deaths, mental disorders, and substance abuse.
But now for the first time, this country has a cabinet secretary who was Indigenous. I come from ancestors who endured the horrors of Indian boarding school. Assimilation policies carried out by the same department that I now lead the same agency that tried to eradicate our culture, our language, our spiritual practices, and our people. To address the intergenerational impact of Indian boarding schools and to promote spiritual and emotional healing in our communities, we must shed light on the unspoken traumas of the past, no matter how hard it will be.
For more than a century, the Interior Department was responsible for operating the Indian boarding schools across the United States and its territories. We are therefore uniquely positioned to assist in the effort to recover the dark history of these institutions that have haunted our families for too long.
It’s our responsibility. Today I’m announcing and sharing with you all — first — that the department will launch the federal Indian boarding school initiative. …
We must uncover the truth about the loss of human life and the lasting consequences of these schools. This investigation will identify past boarding school facilities and sites, the location of known and possible burial sites located at or near school facilities and the identities and tribal affiliations of children who were taken there.
In June 2021 as well, Haaland authored an op-ed in the Washington Post in which she detailed the “tragic era” for Native Americans and claimed that her maternal grandparents had been “stolen from their families.” Some excerpts:
As I read stories about an unmarked grave in Canada where the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found last month, I was sick to my stomach. But the deaths of Indigenous children at the hands of government were not limited to that side of the border. Many Americans may be alarmed to learn that the United States also has a history of taking Native children from their families in an effort to eradicate our culture and erase us as a people. It is a history that we must learn from if our country is to heal from this tragic era. I am a product of these horrific assimilation policies. …
Over nearly 100 years, tens of thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their communities and forced into scores of boarding schools run by religious institutions and the U.S. government. Some studies suggest that by 1926, nearly 83 percent of Native American school-age children were in the system. Many children were doused with DDT upon arrival, and as their coerced re-education got underway, they endured physical abuse for speaking their tribal languages or practicing traditions that didn’t fit into what the government believed was the American ideal. …
The lasting and profound impacts of the federal government’s boarding school system have never been appropriately addressed. This attempt to wipe out Native identity, language and culture continues to manifest itself in the disparities our communities face, including long-standing intergenerational trauma, cycles of violence and abuse, disappearance, premature deaths, and additional undocumented physiological and psychological impacts.
Many of the boarding schools were maintained by the Interior Department, which I now lead. I believe that I — and the Biden-Harris administration — have an important responsibility to bring this trauma to light.
Our children, parents and grandparents deserve a federal government that works to promote our tribal languages, culture and mental health. Many Native children want to learn their tribe’s language, songs and ceremonies. Many Native families want the children who were lost to come home, regardless of how long ago they were stolen.
The obligation to correct and heal those unspeakable wrongs extends to today…. But that obligation also requires that all Americans listen and learn, that we allow federal boarding school survivors and their families an opportunity to be heard, and that we engage in meaningful tribal consultation to seek justice. Though it is uncomfortable to learn that the country you love is capable of committing such acts, the first step to justice is acknowledging these painful truths and gaining a full understanding of their impacts so that we can unravel the threads of trauma and injustice that linger.
On November 19, 2021, the Interior Department announced that it would take action to “remove derogatory names from federal lands.” “Racist terms have no place in our vernacular or on our federal lands,” said Haaland. “Our nation’s lands and waters should be places to celebrate the outdoors and our shared cultural heritage – not to perpetuate the legacies of oppression.” Specifically, Haaland ordered the removal of the term “squaw” — which the DOI identified as an “offensive ethnic, racial, and sexist slur, particularly for Indigenous women.”
In June 2022, Haaland issued a Secretary’s Order to end single-use plastic products – e.g., food and beverage containers, bottles, straws, cups, cutlery, and bags — on public land by 2032. Said Haaland: “The Interior Department has an obligation to play a leading role in reducing the impact of plastic waste on our ecosystems and our climate. As the steward of the nation’s public lands, including national parks and national wildlife refuges, and as the agency responsible for the conservation and management of fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats, we are uniquely positioned to do better for our Earth.”
In February 2019, then-congresswoman Haaland refused to acknowledge the anti-Semitic intent of Rep. Ilhan Omar’s infamous tweet which stated, “It’s all about the Benjamins [$100 bills], baby” – a slogan designed to suggest that the pro-Israel lobby organization AIPAC was guilty of paying U.S. politicians to take positions favorable to Israel.
In April 2020, Haaland and several fellow Democrats signed a letter demanding that Israel refrain from engaging in the “annexation” of land in Judea and Samaria.
In June 2020, Haaland joined fellow Democrats like Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in signing a letter that falsely accused Israeli settlers in the West Bank of perpetrating violence against Palestinians.
Haaland and Israel
In May 2018, after Israeli forces shot armed Hamas terrorists who were attempting to breach the Gaza border and murder Jews inside Israel, Haaland tweeted: “The murder of 60 Palestinians in Gaza just as Ramadan begins weigh heavy on my heart today. The youngest was just 8 months old.” She neglected to mention that nearly all of the casualties were of militants belonging to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
In April 2020, Haaland announced on her website that she (along with ten others) had signed a letter demanding that Israel refrain from engaging in the “annexation” of land purportedly owned by the Palestinians.
In June 2020, Haaland joined such notables as Representatives Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Betty McCollum in signing a letter falsely accusing Israeli settlers of having committed violence against Palestinians.
FROM TRACKING BIDEN 2022:
Biden Administration Finally Holds Its First Lease Sales for New Oil & Gas Drilling on Public Lands
On June 28, 2022, The Hill reported that the Biden administration was about to begin holding lease sales for new oil and gas drilling on public lands in seven Western states. The lease sale of 130,000 available acres in Wyoming was by far the largest, while all the others — in Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado — constituted just a tiny fraction of the Wyoming total. “The lease sales are not expected to immediately impact the country’s oil supply,” said The Hill, “since it takes more than four years on average from the time they acquire their leases for companies to begin producing oil.” The Biden administration’s only previous lease sale had been tossed in court because of environmental concerns.
Added The Hill: “When it announced the sales in April, the Interior Department said it was shrinking the overall land it was making available by 80 percent compared to the total amount of land it originally considered for the sale. The department also announced that it would hike fees that oil companies pay to the government for the oil they extract, raising royalty rates from the 12.5 percent imposed on previous sales to 18.75 percent for the new sales.” Said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland at that time: “For too long, the federal oil and gas leasing programs have prioritized the wants of extractive industries above local communities, the natural environment, the impact on our air and water, the needs of Tribal Nations, and, moreover, other uses of our shared public lands.” “Today, we begin to reset how and what we consider to be the highest and best use of Americans’ resources for the benefit of all current and future generations,” she added.
Frank Macchiarola, the American Petroleum Institute’s senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs, said of the Biden administration’s decision to finally hold some lease sales: “We are concerned about the reduction in available parcels, we’re concerned about royalty rate increases, we’re concerned that the administration’s approach … is limited at a time when we really need something bold. … We’ve seen an unprecedented delay in oil and gas leasing.”
Representatives from leftist groups parked a mobile digital billboard outside of the Department of Interior’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. Thursday to praise newly-minted Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American to head the agency in charge of some 500 million acres, or about one-fifth, of the land in the United States.
The activists who sponsored the display billed themselves as “Indigenous women, environmental advocates, and citizens concerned about climate change.”
The messages displayed on the billboard reveal what direction they want Haaland to take while leading the agency.
“Secretary Haaland will be a fierce advocate for clean air and water, for our land, and for its relatives,” Nikki Pitre, executive director at the Center for Native American Youth, said.
“This is a proud moment for Indigenous people! Secretary Haaland is the fierce leader we need. She’ll lead us like our ancestors have — from our cultural foundations and teachings rooted in Mother Earth,” Allie Young, director of Protect the Sacred, said.
“Secretary Haaland is the perfect person to lead the interior department. She brings the Indigenous understanding that the present is where our collective past connects to our collective future,” Judith LeBlanc, director of Native Organizers Alliance, said.
“Secretary Haaland, may our ancestors guide and protect your leadership. Indigenous women will continue to fight fiercely for reflective representation so you are the first of many,” Anathea Chino, co-founder and executive director of Advance Native Political Leadership, said.
“There has always been Two Spirit Warriors and Indigenous Womxn in positions of power since before first contact. Today, we are fierce, evolved versions of our ancestors they could not kill,” Candi Brings Plenty, Oglala Lakota Sioux/Indigenous justice organizer and lobbyist with the ACLU, said.
“You are the reflection of our ancestors. Lead with compassion as so many grandmothers did before you. Honor our treaties as it is the supreme law of the land and continue to fight against injustice,” Krystal Curley, executive director of Indigenous Life Ways, said.
“Native leadership and values are crucial to protecting the planet for future generations. We are proud of and support Secretary Haaland as she continues to make history!” Crystal Echo Hawk, founder and executive director of IllumiNative, said.
The other groups involved in the billboard project include UltraViolet, ACLU South Dakota, and the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute.
“We have many reasons to celebrate Interior Secretary Deb Haaland,” Elisa Batista, campaign director at UltraViolet, said in a press release announcing the billboard. “Besides her historic nomination, she is exactly the type of experienced public lands champion we need at the helm of Interior to implement the Biden-Harris conservation and climate plan, expand access to the outdoors, and put people before oil and gas profits.”
“For years, Secretary Deb Haaland has been at the forefront of crafting thoughtful solutions to combating the climate crisis through America’s public lands,” Batista said.
“After four years of the Trump administration looting our public lands and wreaking havoc on our climate and environment, Deb Haaland has the experience and drive needed to put us back on the right path,” Batista said.
Haaland has expressed support for President Joe Biden’s promise to ban all oil drilling leases on public land but has also signaled she will protect those same drilling leases on Indian land.
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced Friday that she was reversing former President Donald Trump’s policy promoting fossil fuel development on federal lands, and making climate change the priority in department decisions.
Under Trump’s policy, the U.S. came the world’s top oil producer and achieved energy independence, a long-sought goal. The energy industry boomed, helping to drive rapid economic growth, even as greenhouse gas emissions actually declined.
The Associated Press reported:
The orders revoke Trump-era directives that boosted coal, oil CL00, -0.63% and gas NG00, +1.13%leasing on federal lands and promoted what Trump called “energy dominance” in the United States. Haaland also rescinded a Trump administration order intended to increase oil drilling in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve.
Haaland called the orders by her predecessors, Ryan Zinke and David Bernhardt, “inconsistent with the department’s commitment to protect public health; conserve land, water, and wildlife; and elevate science.”
Collectively, the previous orders “tilted the balance of public land and ocean management without regard for climate change, equity or community engagement,” Haaland said.
In a statement the day before Haaland’s decision, the American Petroleum Institute cautioned against Biden’s policies opposing fossil fuel development: “Enacting these policies means only that we will likely import more oil and natural gas from countries with lower environmental standards and could revert back to coal for power generation, resulting in higher emissions domestically, precisely the opposite of the administration’s intended effect.”
During Friday’s Democratic Weekly Address, Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) touted the Heroes Act, including the bill’s provisions to help states make mail-in voting available to every voter.
Transcript as Follows:
“Hi, everyone, I’m Deb Haaland, Representative for New Mexico’s First Congressional District and proud member of the Pueblo of Laguna.
I’m honored to be one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress in our country’s history. I’m like so many Americans. I’m a single mom and a proud daughter of veterans. My dad served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 30 years and my mother in the Navy.
I understand the struggles that many people face, and I’m proud to stand with my colleagues to help our families to find success.
House Democrats will act boldly to pass The Heroes Act, a bill that meets the challenge our country is now facing and at the level it demands.
Families in New Mexico are sharing with me their concerns, fears and struggles, and like many Americans, they are afraid of losing their homes and businesses, struggling to buy food and to afford life-saving medication.
I know what it’s like to care for a child on a limited income and to worry for an elderly parent who is in a senior living community.
The Trump Administration’s failed response to this coronavirus emergency has caused heartbreak and economic stress for families across our country and have laid bare the disparities that already exist in so many communities.
In particular, Indian Country has been hit very hard by this pandemic. Imagine getting sick and having to drive three hours just to see a doctor or to get to a phone. Imagine not having running water or electricity or public transportation.
Sadly, two sisters on the Navajo Nation didn’t get the coronavirus treatment they needed in time, and they died. Their young sons will live without their mothers.
Heroes come in all forms. They’re hospital workers, grocery clerks, teachers, letter carriers and people who stay home to take care of their elders and protect their communities.
The Heroes Act provides economic stability, so we can begin the long road to economic recovery: $1,200 direct payments; hazard pay for essential workers; investments in broadband to help close the homework gap for kids; small business loans and grants that will reach underserved communities; and funds for testing, tracing and treatment of this virus.
We know state and local governments are stretched thin. That’s why we worked hard to include flexible funding so firefighters can stay on the job, police officers won’t get furloughed and the services that cities provide will remain intact.
As this pandemic impacts our democracy, we’re helping states make mail-in voting available to all voters, keeping the Postal Service open so every voter has access to the ballot box, boosting funding for the Census and delaying the Census deadline.
A dad in my district called me when his son who serves in the military got stuck paying two sets of bills when the Defense Department halted personnel movements. The Heroes Act includes provisions that I fought for to help military families with the financial burdens caused by this pandemic.
The Heroes Act will also help address many of the disparities in Indian Country by providing $20 billion for Tribal governments, addressing Tribal business concerns on the Paycheck Protection Program loans and boosting funds for many Indian Health Service programs, including Urban Indian Health Centers.
When I vote for The Heroes Act, I will vote for all of our families and all our essential workers.
House Democrats will continue fighting for all families, workers and small businesses throughout this uncertain time, and we call on the United States Senate to do the same and to pass The Heroes Act. Thank you, for your support of The Heroes Act.”