Feb. 7, 2021
'Our ancestors' dreams come true': Deb Haaland could become the nation's most powerful Native American leader
If Deb Haaland is confirmed next month as President Joe Biden's next Interior Secretary, the Democrat New Mexico congresswoman, who took office in 2019, will become not just the most powerful Native American politician in the nation, but also the first one to run a department whose centuries of broken promises and benign neglect has contributed to the slow erosion of Indigenous culture. While running for lieutenant governor, Haaland received an email from a college student who was inspired by seeing a Native American woman aiming for high office. The student, Paulene Abeyta, asked how she could help. Haaland replied immediately. "She told me, 'You can run for office, too,' So I did," said Abeyta, who went on to win a school board seat. She is now a third-year law student at the University of Arizona and president of the National Native American Law School Students Association.