Good morning, NUNAverse:
The Senate voted to confirm Representative Deb Haaland as the next Secretary of the Interior yesterday, making her the first Native person to head the department and the first to serve in a President’s Cabinet. Haaland was confirmed by a 51-40 vote, the narrowest margin yet for a Cabinet nomination by President Joe Biden. Four Republicans voted yes: Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
The White House announced yesterday that President Biden will nominate Janie Simms Hipp (Chickasaw Nation), the Chief Executive Officer of the Native American Agriculture Fund, to be the top legal officer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the administration seeks to redress a history of racial discrimination in farm loans and aid. The position requires Senate confirmation.
The New York Times published an article covering the vaccination efforts at the Cherokee Nation, reporting that “the tribe is confronting what looms as a major hurdle for the entire country as vaccine supplies swell to meet demand: how to vaccinate everyone not eagerly lined up for a shot,” and noting that while vaccinations are open to most people on the reservation, there were more than 800 unclaimed appointments on a recent morning.
Representative Raul Grijalva has introduced a bill to keep the U.S. Forest Service from turning over land in the Tonto National Forest east of Phoenix that was set to be transferred to Resolution Copper this week. The land known as Oak Flat is sacred to Native peoples, including the San Carlos Apache Tribe. At least three lawsuits against the Forest Service have raised concern over religious freedom rights, land ownership and violations of federal law.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Deb Haaland Confirmation:
Haaland Confirmed By Senate As First Native American To Lead Interior
The Washington Post, Darryl Fears, March 15
As thousands of Native Americans watched online, Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) was confirmed as secretary of the Interior Department by a 51-to-40 vote in the Senate, making her the first American Indian to lead an agency that manages a vast portfolio of federal land and the oil and mineral wealth that lies beneath it. Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo Nation in New Mexico and whose family ties in the country can be traced back 35 generations, will take control of a department that also oversees Indian Country, 574 federally recognized Native American and Alaska Native communities. Four Republicans crossed party lines to vote for Haaland. The close vote reflected broad support from Democrats and overwhelming opposition from Republicans.
Indian Country Today, Aliyah Chavez, March 15
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 will be sworn into office either Wednesday or Thursday by Vice President Kamala Harris, she said at a public watch party hosted by IllumiNative and NDN Collective. When she is sworn in, Haaland will become the highest ranked Indigenous person in an executive office across the country.
History! Senate Confirms Deb Haaland As First Native American Cabinet Secretary
Native News Online, Jenna Kunze, March 15
On March 15, 2021, more than 200 years after George Washington assembled his first Cabinet, New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland of the Laguna Pueblo was confirmed by the Senate to serve as the first Native American Cabinet secretary, heading the Interior Department. In a 51-40 vote, four Republican Senators broke party lines to join Democrats in confirming Madam Secretary Haaland, including Sens. Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan. The road to the vote was embattled, with a two-day Senate committee hearing and significant pushback from congressional members from resource-reliant states fretting over how their districts could be impacted by the Biden administration’s green energy policies. Some Republican senators made attempts to characterize Haaland as a “left-wing radical,” citing her support for the Green New Deal and opposition to fracking.
Haaland OK’d At Interior, 1st Native American Cabinet Head
AP News, Matthew Daly, March 15
The Senate on Monday confirmed New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland as interior secretary, making her the first Native American to lead a Cabinet department and the first to lead the federal agency that has wielded influence over the nation’s tribes for nearly two centuries.
Democrats and tribal groups hailed Haaland’s confirmation as historic, saying her selection means that Indigenous people — who lived in North America before the United States was created — will for the first time see a Native American lead the powerful department where decisions on relations with the nearly 600 federally recognized tribes are made. Interior also oversees a host of other issues, including energy development on public lands and waters, national parks and endangered species.
Senate Confirms Deb Haaland As Biden’s Interior Secretary In Historic Vote
CNN, Clare Foran, March 15
The Senate voted Monday to confirm Deb Haaland as President Joe Biden’s Interior secretary, a historic move that will make her the first Native American Cabinet secretary. The vote was 51 to 40, with most Republicans voting against her after several called her views on public land use and fossil fuels extreme. During her confirmation hearings, Haaland highlighted her history-making nomination, saying, “The historic nature of my confirmation is not lost on me, but I will say, it is not about me. Rather, I hope this nomination would be an inspiration for Americans — moving forward together as one nation and creating opportunities for all of us.”
Senate Makes History With Vote Confirming Haaland As Interior Secretary
Cronkite News, Sarah Oven, March 15
The Senate Monday confirmed New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland as the next Interior secretary, a historic vote that makes her the first Native American to head a Cabinet agency. The confirmation came over the objection of Senate Republicans, particularly those representing Western states dependent on fossil fuels, who have called Haaland an environmental extremist. But Democrats – and four Republicans who voted to confirm the nomination – pointed to Haaland’s reputation as a bipartisan House member as well as the historic nature of her nomination.
NCAI Applauds the Historic Confirmation of Congresswoman Debra Haaland As Secretary Of The U.S. Department Of The Interior
NCAI, March 15
The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) applauds the historic confirmation today of Rep. Debra Haaland as President Joe Biden’s Secretary of the Department of the Interior (Interior). Congresswoman Haaland (Pueblo of Laguna), an attorney, and tireless advocate for Native American communities, was confirmed Monday by a vote of 51 to 40 in the Senate. Her confirmation is a watershed moment for Indian Country, marking the first time in the history of the United States that a Native American has served as a cabinet Secretary.
Biden Nominates Native American Advocate As Top Attorney For USDA
Bloomberg, Mike Dorning, March 15
President Joe Biden chose an advocate for Native American farmers to be the top legal officer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the administration seeks to redress a history of racial discrimination in farm loans and aid.
Bill Would Reverse Oak Flat Land Swap
Indian Country Today, March 15
U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva has introduced a bill to keep the U.S. Forest Service from turning over land in Arizona for a massive copper mine. The parcel of land in the Tonto National Forest east of Phoenix was set to be transferred to Resolution Copper this week. But the Biden administration recently pulled back an environmental review that cleared the way for the land exchange so it could further consult with Native American tribes. The land known as Oak Flat is sacred to Native Americans, including the San Carlos Apache Tribe. At least three lawsuits against the Forest Service have raised concern over religious freedom rights, land ownership and violations of federal law.
Relief For Native Americans Will Go Beyond Expanded Vaccine Distribution
Marketplace, Jasmine Garsd, March 16
Native Americans have been among the hardest hit by COVID-19. They have been more than three times as likely to get the virus as white Americans.
Plenty Of Vaccines, But Not Enough Arms: A Warning Sign In Cherokee Nation
New York Times, Jack Healy, March 16
As people across the United States jockey and wait to get vaccinated, a surprising problem is unfolding in the Cherokee Nation: plenty of shots, but not enough arms.
AstraZeneca Concerns Throw Europe’s Vaccine Rollout Into Deeper Disarray
New York Times, Jason Horowitz, March 15
As a third wave of the pandemic crashes over Europe, questions about the safety of one of the continent’s most commonly available vaccines led Germany, France, Italy and Spain to temporarily halt its use on Monday. The suspensions created further chaos in inoculation rollouts even as new coronavirus variants continue to spread.
‘It’s The End Of The Nightmare’: Native Americans Of Yakama Nation Celebrate Vaccination Roll-Out
Independent, Andrew Buncombe, March 15
The Yakama Nation Reservation occupies more than 2,000 square miles in the south of Washington state, about three hours’ drive from Seattle. It was created following an 1855 treaty that requires the federal authorities to provide healthcare services to the tribe. As such, the clinic held at at cultural centre in the city of Toppenish that was providing shots of the Pfizer vaccine, was overseen by the Indian Health Service (HHS), a federal agency. Surveys combined with anecdotal evidence suggest people in Native American communities may be more willing than most to take one of the three vaccines now available, putting aside any inoculation anxiety for the betterment of the wider community.
Cheyenne Mountain School District Votes To change Native American Mascot For Cheyenne Mountain High School
KRDO, Shelby Filangi, March 15
On Monday, the Board of Education for Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 voted to change the Native American mascot for Cheyenne Mountain High School.
Congressional Members Support Injunction To Stop Sale Of Seattle Archives Facility
Native News Online, March 15
Last week, 25 Senators from the Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and Idaho congressional delegations — led by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) — signed onto a letter supporting a halt to the sale of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) facility in Seattle. The National Archives building hosts exclusive and un-digitized tribal and treaty records. Tribal members use federal archive records to establish tribal membership, demonstrate and enforce tribal rights to fishing and other activities, trace their lineage and ancestry, and access Native school records. According to NARA’s Seattle director, only “.001% of the facility’s 56,000 cubic feet of records are digitized and available online.”