Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release

Press Release

'Native Americans Finally Have a Cabinet Nominee. Will an Adopted Tlingit Take Her Down?’

If confirmed, Haaland, a tribal citizen of the Laguna Pueblo, would become the first Native American Cabinet secretary in United States history.
WASHINGTON -

Today, as Republicans dig in against Deb Haaland as Interior secretary, Julian Brave Noisecat, vice president of policy and strategy with Data for Progress, has a new piece out in Politico highlighting the choice faced by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski between her party and a powerful constituency that's come to trust her. 

Key sections below:

Over the past two months, he [Joe William Jr, a Tinglit tribal elder] and thousands of others have been making phone calls, sending emails and writing letters telling their tribal leaders and congressional representatives to support the Democratic pick to oversee federal lands, natural resources and American Indian affairs. “I fully, 100 percent support her appointment,” Williams said of Haaland, despite the fact that she’s a progressive and he’s been voting Republican since the Reagan years. “And the reason for that is I don’t have to explain to her what it means to be an Indian.”

***

For American Indians, the nomination of Haaland has a special symbolic power: A Native woman poised to lead a department once run by a man who declared its mission was to “civilize or exterminate” Native people. It strikes some as a rich irony that Republicans are now describing her as an existential threat to their way of life.

***

When a Republican House member urged Biden to withdraw his nomination of Haaland, five tribes in the congressman’s district wrote him a letter saying: “This historic nomination is more important to us and all of Indian country than any other Cabinet nomination in recent history. … Your opposition to the first and only American Indian ever nominated to a Cabinet position is likely to reverberate across Indian country.”

***

With Democrats out of contention in the state, Alaska Natives have little incentive to vote out a political ally. But for some, a betrayal of this significance could throw the very strength of her allyship into doubt. Native voters know too that with Murkowski already risking yet another right-wing primary, the senator has little incentive to offend them—many of whom are independent and can vote in either of the state’s party primaries, or sit out if they choose—since she likely needs their support to beat back such a challenge.

###

Climate Power 2020 is putting the Trump administration on defense every single day for ignoring experts, refusing to believe in science, surrendering our government to big oil executives, and gutting public health protections, all at the expense of future generations. The 2020 presidential election is the defining moment for how our nation addresses the climate crisis—our leaders must be emboldened to take immediate action on climate change and to build a just and equitable economy. The time to act is now. Learn more: climatepower2020.org

Biden Urged to Sign Executive Order Guaranteeing Rail Workers Paid Sick Leave

After the president brokered a compulsory contract without a single paid day off for illness, one labor advocate implored him to "put up or shut up about how you really want them to have sick leave!"

Brett Wilkins ·


Campaigners Demand Deep Cuts to Plastic Production as Global Treaty Negotiations Ramp Up

"The scale of the problem is mind-boggling," said one advocate. "Plastic is in our blood. It's in fetuses. It's really encroaching on every aspect of human existence."

Julia Conley ·


Putting 'Profits Over People', Senate Rejects Paid Sick Leave for Rail Workers

"Senate Republicans and Joe Manchin have yet AGAIN failed working Americans by voting down seven days of paid sick leave for rail workers," lamented Rep. Jamaal Bowman.

Brett Wilkins ·


'We Must Cancel Student Debt,' Activists Argue as SCOTUS Agrees to Hear Case in February

"The right-tilted Supreme Court now holds in the balance relief for millions of hardworking Americans," said one campaigner. "It would be a giant loss for the economy if justices rule in favor of the special interests."

Jessica Corbett ·


A Labor Revolt Is Brewing... Inside the National Labor Relations Board

"From Congress, we demand funds, not furloughs," says the NLRB union. "From NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, we demand collaboration, not coercion."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo