- By Jenna Kunze
Madam Secretary Deb Haaland (Pueblo of Laguna) took the oath of office to become the 54th Secretary of the Department of the Interior Tuesday night in a small ceremony with family, according to department spokesperson Tyler Cherry. The oath was administered by Chief of Staff Jennifer Van der Heide.
Today marks her initial day serving as the first Native American to head a federal department.
The former New Mexico Representative resigned from her Congressional seat Tuesday, and delivered an emotional farewell address on the House floor. She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Monday evening by a 51-40 vote.
“Growing up, Native women rarely held federal lead positions and now, little girls everywhere will know that they can run for Congress and win, and that this country holds promise for everyone,” she said in her address. “In fact, it's the unique experience and struggles that make good leaders, and why I became an organizer in the first place.”
Haaland said the fact that she survived on food stamps, has overcome addiction, and has lived experience as an Indigenous woman makes her qualified to advocate for struggling families, and hold the United States government responsible to its trust responsibilities.
“At my confirmation hearing, I said that we all have a stake in the future of our country,” she said. “No matter your political party or Zip code, your ancestral heritage or income level, we all must take the formidable challenges that lie ahead seriously, and we will take them head-on, together.”
A ceremonial swear-in ceremony administered by Vice President Kamala Harris will be live-streamed Thursday, according to Haaland’s daughter Somáh’s announcement on Instagram.
Celebrating 10 years of Native News...
We launched Native News Online back in February 2011 with the belief that everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities. That's why the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers. We hope it inspires you to celebrate our first decade with a gift of $10 or more to Native News Online so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. Any contribution of any amount — big or small — gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.