A member of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe in New Mexico, Deb Haaland could become the first Native American Interior Secretary. As Interior Secretary, Ms. Haaland would oversee management of National Parks Services, federal lands, and the U.S. bureau of Indian Affairs.
Additionally, the Interior Department works closely with the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) overseeing federal water rights, mining and drilling on federal lands and the Endangered Species Act, among other environmental considerations.
President elect Biden has picked Michael Regan to head the E.P.A. and, if confirmed, Regan would become the first black head of the agency.
The legacy of Native Americans – particularly women – being displaced, murdered and abused for hundreds of years is deeply related to land and resources rights in the United States. And, the impacts of environmental degradation and climate disruption have been born disproportionately by black Americans since the problems arose.
Accordingly, the importance of a Native American woman being elected to oversee Interior Department and a black man the Environmental Protection Agency cannot be overstated.
What impact might electing leaders with different, and perhaps more first-hand, understanding of land rights abuses or environmental justice produce? Could this signal a wider shift in American mindsets from power over to power with?