Debra Anne Haaland (born December 2, 1960) is an American politician who currently serves as the 54th Secretary of the Interior of the United States. She was a Democrat who led the New Mexico Democratic Party from 2015 to 2017 and represented the state’s first congressional district from 2019 to 2021. Haaland belongs to and is a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe.
Deb Haaland was born in Winslow, Arizona on December 2, 1960. Haaland is part of the Laguna Pueblo tribe. The matrilineal tribe has lived in what is now New Mexico since the early 1200s. As a result of her ancestry, Haaland considers herself to be a 35th-generation New Mexican.
Haaland’s mother, Mary Toya, was a former Navy member who worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Indian education. Toya made certain that her children had contact with their maternal grandparents. Haaland learned to cook while working outside with her grandfather and watching her grandmother cook. Deb Haaland’s father, John David Haaland, was a Norwegian American born in Minnesota. He was awarded the Silver Star for his service in the United States Marine Corps in Vietnam.
She graduated from Highland High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1978. She worked as a baker for several years before enrolling at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1994. Deb Haaland then founded a company to sell her own salsa. She went back to the University of New Mexico and finished her studies, earning a law degree in 2006.
When he was in law school, Haaland became involved in Democratic politics. She volunteered for John Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004. She also volunteered for Barack Obama’s presidential and reelection campaigns in 2008 and 2012. She was the tribal administrator for the San Felipe Pueblo from 2013 to 2015.
Despite being defeated in her 2014 bid for lieutenant governor of New Mexico, she was chosen to lead the state’s Democratic Party. She was only the state party’s leader for one term (2015–17). On November 6, 2018, Haaland was elected to represent New Mexico’s first congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. Sharice Davids, a Democratic Kansas resident and Ho-Chunk Nation member, was also elected to the House on that day. Haaland and Davids were the first Native American women elected to Congress.
When she was a member of Congress, Haaland served on the House Committee on Natural Resources. In that capacity, she worked to limit oil and gas development on federal lands. She also promoted the Green New Deal, a climate change campaign supported by many liberal Democrats.
Deb Haaland also supported the “Medicare for All” initiative, which would have established a national health insurance system with a single payer. She attempted to get federal funds released to Native American tribe governments to help them deal with the COVID-19 epidemic when it arrived in the United States in 2020.
In the general election in November 2020, Haaland easily won reelection to her House seat. In the presidential election, Democratic candidate Joe Biden defeated Republican incumbent Donald Trump. Biden, the president-elect, chose Haaland to lead the United States Interior Department. This agency is in charge of the majority of the nation’s federally owned lands and natural resources, as well as American Indian and Alaskan Native reserve communities.
At the time of his announcement on December 17, Biden praised Haaland as a “breakthrough public servant” who would be “ready to defend our environment and fight for a clean energy future” from the start. However, a number of Senate Republicans strongly disagreed with Haaland on energy and land management issues, causing the confirmation process to be delayed. The Senate finally approved Haaland’s nomination as Interior Secretary on March 15, 2021, with a 51-40 vote. She was sworn in the following day.
Haaland has a kid, Somáh, whom she brought up on her own. Her hobbies include gourmet cuisine and marathon running. Haaland and Skip Sayre tied the knot at Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico, on August 28, 2021. On July 17, 2022, Haaland fractured his left fibula while out on a hike in Shenandoah National Park.
Forbes estimates Haaland has no personal net worth based on an examination of her financial declaration and available documents. The Office of Government Ethics collects but does not audit disclosure forms on which federal appointees and officials must disclose nearly all assets, obligations, and income sources. The nearly empty file provided by Haaland in December 2020. She specifies two items: a $175 yearly tribe contribution and $50,000 in college loans.