Cabinet Profiles: Deb Haaland: Secretary Of The Interior

The hearings for President Joe Biden‘s Cabinet nominations continue today.

We will hear testimony from his picks to lead all of his cabinet positions over the next several weeks. We will profile the nominees in advance of their hearings so our readers will have some background information as the proceedings take place.

In addition, most of the hearings will be live-streamed, and we will share that information on our Twitter feed once the hearings go live.


Deb Haaland

Secretary Of The Interior

  • Vice Chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources
  • Will make history as the first Native American Interior Secretary and the first-ever Native American Cabinet Secretary

Haaland is an American attorney and politician serving as the U.S. Representative for New Mexico’s 1st congressional district. The district includes almost three-fourths of Albuquerque, along with most of that city’s suburbs.

Haaland is a former chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico. She and Sharice Davids are the first two Native American women elected to the U.S. Congress.

She is an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo people. Her mother, Mary Toya, a Native American woman, served in the United States Navy. Her father, J. D. “Dutch” Haaland, a Norwegian American, was a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and recipient of the Silver Star for his actions in Vietnam; he was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in 2005. She has three sisters and a brother.

Haaland earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of New Mexico in 1994. She earned her Juris Doctor in Indian law from the University of New Mexico School of Law in 2006. She served as the tribal administrator for the San Felipe Pueblo from January 2013 to November 2015.

In 2012, Haaland served as the state’s vote director for Native Americans in Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential reelection campaign. She ran for Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico in 2014. Her ticket, headed by then Attorney General of New Mexico Gary King, the party’s nominee for Governor of New Mexico, lost to the Republican ticket of incumbent Governor Susana Martinez and Lieutenant Governor John Sanchez.

She was elected to a two-year term as the Chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico in April 2015. During her tenure, New Mexico Democrats regained control of the New Mexico House of Representatives.

After the expiration of her term, Haaland announced her intention to run for the United States House of Representatives in New Mexico’s 1st congressional district in the 2018 elections, to succeed Michelle Lujan Grisham, who was running for governor. Haaland defeated Damon Martinez to win the Democratic Party nomination in June 2018, receiving 40.5% of the vote and winning every county in the district.

In the November 6 general election Haaland defeated former New Mexico State Representative Janice Arnold-Jones, receiving 59.1% of the vote and winning three of the district’s five counties.


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