A fierce Indigenous woman is now the caretaker of the nation’s public lands and waters for the first time in U.S. history.
Deb Haaland was confirmed as the nation’s 54th Secretary of the Interior in a 51-40 vote Monday, making her the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency.
Republican Sens. Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan broke from party lines to vote to confirm Haaland, a notable choice given other Republican senators publicly saying she was not the right candidate.
Haaland is a citizen of Laguna Pueblo, and has ties to Jemez Pueblo through her grandfather, which she frequently cites. She spent her career in New Mexico as a former small business owner, organizer and tribal administrator before running for Congress.
A key role of the Interior’s duty is to respectfully manage the government’s federal trust responsibilities promised to tribal nations. She will also be leading the most important government agencies affecting Indian Country, such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education.
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