fbpx
 

The mother of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Mary E. Toya, passed away on Saturday. The cause of death and her age was not released in the statement issued by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Born in Winslow, Ariz. in 1935, to Antonio Toya (Jemez) and Helen Toya (Laguna), Mary Toya was born in a train boxcar. In her youth, she played the snare drum in the Santa Fe Indian Band and traveled to Washington, D.C. for the first time to play the 1953 inauguration of President Dwight Eisenhower.

Want more Native News? Get the free daily newsletter today.

She served in the U.S. Navy. After her military service, Toya spent 25-years working the Indian Education at the Bureau of Indian Affairs where she was a teacher’s aide, secretary, and later, office manager for the superintendent of schools in Albuquerque, N.M.

“We celebrate Mary Toya’s long life and are grateful for her 25 years of service to Native students as a member of the Interior team within Indian Affairs,” Melissa Schwartz, an Interior Department spokesperson said in a statement.

“Mary spoke Keres, raised her children in a Pueblo household and passed traditional wisdom down to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” Schwartz said. “Her legacy will live on in Secretary Haaland, all of her relatives and the countless Native people she inspired.”

In January 2019, Toya travelled to Washington, D.C. to see her daughter Deb Haaland, a Democrat, sworn into the U.S. Congress, representing New Mexico’s first congressional district. Haaland, along with Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS), became the first two Native American women to ever serve in Congress.

Haaland was nominated by then President-elect Joe Biden to be the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior last December. During her confirmation hearing, Haaland referenced her mother serving in the U.S. Navy. Toya was too ill to travel to Washington to see her daughter sworn in as the first ever Native American to serve in a secretarial post within a presidential cabinet.

Haaland’s father, David D. Haaland passed away in 2005.

 

More Stories Like This

Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Citizen, Justice Mark Montour,  Appointed State Appellate Court Justice
Hundreds Gather in St. Paul for Boarding School Survivors Candlelight Vigil
Walk to Freedom for Leonard Peltier Halfway to Washington
President Biden Welcomes a “Conversation” about Atlanta Braves’s Name and the Infamous Tomahawk Chop
Through the Eyes of a 6-Year-old Child, Orange Became a Symbol of an Indigenous Movement

Do you appreciate a Native perspective on the news? 

For the past decade-plus, we’ve covered the important Indigenous stories that are often overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the toppling of colonizer statues during the racial equity protests, to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools, we have been there to provide a Native perspective and elevate Native voices.

Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.  Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10.  Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news. 

Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Native News Online Staff
Author: Native News Online StaffEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Native News Online is one of the most-read publications covering Indian Country and the news that matters to American Indians, Alaska Natives and other Indigenous people. Reach out to us at [email protected]