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Biden: Federal government 'has long-broken promises to Native American tribes'

Biden: Federal government 'has long-broken promises to Native American tribes'
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President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday said the U.S. government has “long broken promises to Native American tribes,” in remarks officially introducing Rep. Deb HaalandDeb HaalandOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Internal watchdog to probe Trump officials who cast doubt on climate science | Kerry on climate talks: 'I regret that my country has been absent' | Biden leans on Obama-era appointees on climate Biden expands on Obama ethics pledge Biden leans on Obama-era appointees on climate MORE (D-N.M.) as his pick for Interior secretary, making her the first Native American to be selected for a Cabinet position. 

The federal government has long broken promises to Native American tribes who have been on this land since time immemorial,” Biden said while announcing his nominees to join his climate team. 

“With her appointment, Congresswoman Haaland will help me strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship,” the former vice president added. 

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Haaland, who was backed to take on the role by a number of progressive groups and tribes, said in her remarks Saturday, “this moment is profound when we consider the fact that a former secretary of the interior once proclaimed his goal to ‘civilize or exterminate us [Native Americans].'"

“I am a living testament to the failure of that horrific ideology,” the Democratic representative added. 

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Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, was one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress, alongside Rep. Sharice DavidsSharice DavidsBiden: Federal government 'has long-broken promises to Native American tribes' Overnight Energy: Biden makes historic pick with Haaland for Interior | Biden set to tap North Carolina official to lead EPA | Gina McCarthy forges new path as White House climate lead Biden makes historic pick with Haaland for Interior secretary MORE (D-Kan.), and was an early backer of the Green New Deal.

In an official statement following news of her planned nomination Thursday, Haaland said, “A voice like mine has never been a Cabinet secretary or at the head of the Department of Interior.” 

“It’s profound to think about the history of this country’s policies to exterminate Native Americans and the resilience of our ancestors that gave me a place here today,” she continued. 

Haaland added in the statement, “As our country faces the impacts of climate change and environmental injustice, the Interior has a role and I will be a partner in addressing these challenges by protecting our public lands and moving our country towards a clean energy future.” 

If confirmed, Haaland will likely deliver a turnaround for the sprawling, 70,000-person agency that has rolled back environmental and endangered species protections and expanded oil and gas drilling under the current administration. Biden has pledged to bar any new oil and gas leasing on public lands, which will likely require action from the Interior department.

Biden on Saturday also introduced his other picks to shape climate policy under his administration, including former Michigan Gov. Jennifer GranholmJennifer GranholmOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Internal watchdog to probe Trump officials who cast doubt on climate science | Kerry on climate talks: 'I regret that my country has been absent' | Biden leans on Obama-era appointees on climate This week: Senate stuck in limbo Biden leans on Obama-era appointees on climate MORE (D) for Secretary of Energy and North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael ReganMichael ReganOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Internal watchdog to probe Trump officials who cast doubt on climate science | Kerry on climate talks: 'I regret that my country has been absent' | Biden leans on Obama-era appointees on climate Biden leans on Obama-era appointees on climate OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Groups sue EPA over 'backwards' lead rule | 12 states, green groups sue EPA over airline standards they deem insufficient | Biden taps Janet McCabe to serve as deputy at EPA MORE to serve as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Regan, 44, would be the first Black man to run the EPA if confirmed. 

Biden has also selected environmental lawyer Brenda Mallory as his pick to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). She would be the first Black person to head the CEQ. 

The president-elect on Saturday also highlighted former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyBiden faces tall order in uniting polarized nation Biden to rejoin Paris agreement, revoke Keystone XL permit  Biden to sign flurry of executive actions in first hours of presidency MORE as his choice to lead the newly-formed White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, and climate expert and longtime Biden adviser Ali Zaidi as deputy national climate adviser. Zaidi is the highest-ranking Pakistani-American to be appointed by Biden in his administration.