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Guest Opinion. As Alaska Native women, we strongly support the historic nomination of Congresswoman Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) to run the Department of the Interior. She would make long-overdue history as the first ever Indigenous cabinet secretary and we have weighed in with our Alaska Senators to encourage their support for her nomination. An article published by the Anchorage Daily News recently seemed to imply that there was widespread concern among Alaska Natives regarding Congresswoman Haaland’s nomination, but we find this misleading. We, the undersigned Alaska Native women, wish to speak proudly and boldly in support of the first Native woman cabinet secretary nominee.

 Deb Haaland is the caring and innovative leader that Alaska and the nation need at the helm of the Department of the Interior. She will center bipartisanship, meaningful engagement with our state, and ensure that all Alaskans have a healthy environment and a healthy economy. Many of us know Deb personally. She is a person rooted in values, her culture, great pride for country, and she listens to all sides of an issue before making thoughtful and balanced decisions. She understands that our Alaska economy is struggling, and she will seek to support policies that safeguard good jobs while also creating opportunities for diversified economic development. As Deb stated in her Senate hearing this week in response to Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s questions, she is willing to meaningfully engage with our state leaders to ensure a prosperous future for all Alaskans.

In the more than 200-year history of this country’s government, there has never been a seat at the president’s cabinet table for Indigenous peoples of this country. For the first time, this long overdue and historic appointment is possible.

Alaska has the highest population of Indigenous peoples per capita of any state in the union and we have too often been unrepresented or underrepresented in government leadership. Deb’s nomination by President Joe Biden to lead the Department of the Interior is deeply meaningful to us as Alaska Natives and as women. Her confirmation would mean that our children, especially our daughters, nieces, and granddaughters will see someone who looks like them leading alongside the president of the United States, and they will know that no dream is off limits to them. We cannot overstate how important it is for her confirmation to be affirmed by the U.S. Senate, including by our Alaska senators. Any attempt to thwart her confirmation can only be interpreted by us as an attempt to thwart the inclusion of Native women’s voices at the highest levels of government.

Deb’s confirmation as Secretary of the Interior would elevate Alaska Native issues to a level never before seen. Deb has already agreed to visit Alaska early in her tenure as Secretary and has committed to conferring often with Alaskans, including Alaska Native tribal and corporation leadership. As a Congresswoman, Deb led the charge in the fight against the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and she is a leader in the fight for equality and women’s rights. Deb understands that we must not only care about our own children’s future, but we must also care about our children’s children’s future across the next seven generations. “Auntie Deb” as she has affectionately been called by Native America, would, for the first time, bring a lived and learned understanding of Indigenous issues to the federal department that has the most influence over the future of our Indigenous communities.

We want to be clear, we support Congresswoman Deb Haaland for Secretary of the Interior. We call on our Alaska Senators to support her nomination because she is the right person for the job and because there has never been a more meaningful nominee for us as Indigenous women.

Signed: 

Rochelle Adams, Dr. Alisa Alexander, Megan Alvanna-Stimpfle, Ella Anagick, Marina Anderson, Susan Anderson, Kay Andrews, Melanie Bahnke, Shyanne Chulyin Ch’ivaya Beatty, Wassiliisia (DeeDee) Bennis, Dr. Jessica Black, Barbara Blake, Nicole Borromeo, Melissa Borton, Christina Bringhurst, Karla Brollier, Dr. Pearl K. Brower, Andrea Akalleq (Sanders) Burgess, Gloria Burns, Barbara Cadiente-Nelson, Debra Call, Dr. Nikoosh Carlo, Kendri Cesar, Malinda Chase, Sdaahlk’awaas Della Cheney, Gail Cheney, Angela Cox, Liz Qaulluq Cravalho, Elizabeth David, Valerie Davidson, Cheryl Demmert, Michelle Demmert, Sandra Demmert, Dalee Sambo Dorough, Emily Edenshaw, Catherine Edwards, Christianna Edwards, Miciana Edwards, Mona Evan, Tricia Everson, Dr. Charleen Fisher-Salmon, Penny Gage, Tonya Garnett, Angela Gonzalez, Darla Graham, Heather Shá xat k’ei Gurko, Nicole Hallingstad, Natasha Hayden, Elizabeth Saagulik Hensley, Deenalee Hodgdon, Beverly Kikikaaq Hoffman, Doris Hugo-Shavings, Joy Huntington, Alannah Hurley, Kaaxwáan Dawn Jackson, Helena Jacobs, Kristy Jeffries, Genevieve John, Princess Daazhraii Johnson, Marlene Johnson, Mary Ann Johnson, Kim Panitchiaq Sigvaun Jorgensen, Cordelia Qiġñaaq Kellie, Heather Kendall-Miller, Kendra Kloster, Verna Kolyaha, Melissa Kookesh, Tisha Neviq’aq Kuhns, Marleah LaBelle, Lisa Lang, Sylvia Lange, Delores Larson, Dorothy Larson, Aurora Lehr, Madeline Soboleff Levy, Georgianna Lincoln, Stacey Lucason, Toni Mallott, Edna Matthew, La quen naaay Liz Medicine Crow, Michele Metz, Dr. Angela Michaud, Johanna “Jodi” Mitchell, Catrina Mitchell, MaryAlyce Moss, Debra O’Gara, Sarah Obed, Jacqueline Pata, Mary Peltola, Gah Kith Tin Alana Peterson, Chief Rhonda Pitka, Heather Lgeik’i Powell, Ayyu Qassataq, AlexAnna Salmon, Jackie Qataliña Schaeffer, Greta Schuerch, Krystalynn Scott, Grace Singh, Natasha Singh, Sophie Snow, Debbie Snyder, Michelle Atkiq Snyder, Amy Sparck, Cika Sparck, Michelle Sparck, Vera Starbard, Dr. Charlene Stern, Nicole Atanan Stoops, Karen Taug, Raina Thiele, Aleesha Towns-Bain, Tiffany Tutiakoff, Malia Villegas, Deborah Vo, Lisa Wade, Patricia Walker, Kelsey Wallace, Jonella Larson White, Kimberly Williams, Kristi Nuna’q Williams, Maria Williams, Beverly A. Woods, Brooke Woods, Crystal Worl, Lillian Worl, Rosita Worl and Tiffany Zulkosky.

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About The Author
Author: 127 Alaska Native Women