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Deb Haaland says 'of course' she would serve as Interior secretary under Biden

Deb Haaland says 'of course' she would serve as Interior secretary under Biden
© Bonnie Cash

Rep. Deb HaalandDeb HaalandOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Nine, including former Michigan governor, charged over Flint water crisis | Regulator finalizes rule forcing banks to serve oil, gun companies | Trump admin adds hurdle to increase efficiency standards for furnaces, water heaters Biden's chief aide says president wants teams, no rivals Washington state neighbors underscore internal Democratic tensions MORE (D-N.M.) said that she would happily take on the role of President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenConfirmation hearing for Biden's DNI pick postponed Biden's Sunday inauguration rehearsal postponed due to security concerns: report Murkowski says it would be 'appropriate' to bar Trump from holding office again MORE's secretary of the Interior if the job were offered to her, according to HuffPost.

When asked whether she was interested in the role in an interview with HuffPost, Haaland said "Oh yes, of course." 

Haaland became 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.), when she assumed her current role in 2018. Many other elected tribal leaders and officials are pushing for her to make history once again, the online news outlet reported.

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“We’ve never had a Native American serve in any Cabinet position,” Bryan Newland, tribal chairman of the Bay Mills Indian Community in Michigan, told HuffPost. “Rep. Haaland is more than qualified and capable of serving as secretary of interior and would be a great choice.”

Newland is a lead organizer of a letter to be penned by more than 120 elected tribal leaders, which intends to call on Biden to have an Indigenous person to serve in his Cabinet, specifically to the Interior Department because of its responsibility to manage natural resources as well as public lands, according to the news outlet.

Haaland says that while she has not been contacted by Biden's team about the position she does acknowledge that an Indigenous woman gaining oversight of lands that were once forcibly taken from Native American people would be a step toward progress, HuffPost reported.

“The symbolism alone, yes, it’s profound,” she said.

“I tell people I’m a 35th-generation New Mexican because I am. The Pueblo people migrated to the Rio Grande Valley in the late 1200s, 35 generations ago,” she said. “I think it’s a time in our world ― not just in our country, but our entire world ― to listen to Indigenous people when it comes to climate change, when it comes to our environment.”

Haaland said that regardless of who is chosen for the role they have an opportunity to make strides in tackling climate change.

“Whoever becomes secretary has an opportunity to combat climate change, to take this 25 percent carbon that our public lands are emitting right now and eliminate that,” Haaland said. “I think that what is required is somebody who cares about our public lands.”