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Local reaction to Rep. Deb Haaland’s historic confirmation

Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 10:02 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - A monumental vote in Washington, D.C. has Native American and Indigenous people in Nevada and the country celebrating. Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico was confirmed on Monday, March 15, 2021, as Interior Secretary, the first Native American Cabinet Secretary.

Tribal Chairman Arlan Melendez of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony (RSIC) says the move has Nevada’s ancestors rejoicing.

“I think she’s a great role model not only for Native Americans but for indigenous people as a whole,” Chairman Melendez said.

Her job with the Department of the Interior will be to oversee natural resources, public lands, and Indian affairs. She’ll also be part of president Joe Biden’s plan to tackle climate change.

Chairman Melendez added, “She understands tribal government and she’s been brought up in a culture that respects the land.”

Before the pandemic, Haaland visited Reno and met with tribal leaders from across the state. Chairman Melendez says he’s hopeful Nevada’s needs will be heard.

“She knows some of us and we have a good relationship so we’re looking forward to furthering that.”

Tribal Chairman Arlan Melendez, reno-Sparks Indian Colony

“There’s going to be some great things happening here within the department of the interior and for Nevada hopefully in the future,” Russell Kuhlman, Executive Director of the Nevada Wildlife Federation (NVWF) said. The nonprofit is the oldest state-based conservation organization in the Silver State. He believes Haaland’s culture and experience will ensure our land is responsibly managed and protected.

Kuhlman added, “I’m happy to have the new secretary Haaland be representative of the people that have a very strong connection to those public lands.”

Most Republicans voted against her after several called her views on public land use and fossil fuels “extreme.”

Whether you agree with the new secretary’s views or not, having her in this role sheds a light on the importance of diversity and inclusion in leadership.

“Opportunity for young girls and opportunity for Native Americans that you can strive to someday accomplish some great things,” Chairman Melendez said.

Some state leaders have sent their congrats to Haaland, including Senator Jacky Rosen.

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto tweeted out a video response to the new Interior Secretary.

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