WASHINGTON, DC — Leaders of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) are expressing excitement over the nomination of New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland as the Secretary of Interior.
Not only is she the first Native American to head the Interior Department, but the first to hold a position in a Presidential cabinet.
Haaland is a member of the Laguna Pueblo people, and has served as Congresswoman for New Mexico's 1st District, which includes Albuquerque and its suburbs, since last year. She was one of the first Native American women elected to Congress.
Her nomination by President-elect Joe Biden builds on her experience as chair of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee dealing with National Parks and public lands.
Locally, the nomination is getting thumbs up in Indian Country here in Montana with the CSKT Tribal Council issuing a statement of support.
"As a council, we work to ensure our issues and concerns are part of the conversation with local, state and federal branches of the government. This appointment helps our efforts to be understood, said our Chairwoman Shelly R. Fyant.
"They're excited to see this historic breakthrough. And in a personal note to me she wrote in the note 'I'm thrilled by this.' So I think it's safe to say there's excitement," said CSKT Spokesman, Rob McDonald.
If confirmed, Haaland would not oversee management of federal and tribal lands, but the National Parks, and natural resources.