Indian Country Today
Hashtags, memes, and a twitterstorm. That was the case this week as Indigenous leaders, advocates and allies declared “Deb for Interior” week.
Many social media posts strongly urged President-elect Joe Biden to nominate Rep. Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior, a position no Native person has held before.
Supporters, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Kerry Washington, tweeted their support to millions of followers with the same hashtag: “#DebForInterior.”
Haaland was reportedly being vetted for the position by the Biden transition team in mid-November. Others reportedly being considered for the post include former Interior Deputy Secretary Michael Connor, Taos Pueblo, and retiring Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico. Connor served under the Obama administration.
"The best choice is so clear," "It’s past overdue that a Native American lead the Interior," "It’s time an Indigenous woman lead the Department of the Interior,” were some tweets posted.
Advocates went the extra mile by creating memes:
This week’s social media buzz only adds to support that has been building over the last month.
Many tribal leaders have offered formal support through letters and op-eds including Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, President of the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe Shannon Holsey, Chairman of the Suquamish Tribe Leonard Forsman, and the All Pueblo Council of Governors, among others.
Haaland’s Congressional colleagues have spoken out too.
More than 50 Congress members sent a letter to Biden in November to “strongly recommend” that he nominate Haaland, citing her work as Vice Chair of the Natural Resources Committee and bi-partisan work in Congress.
Rep. Sharice Davids, Ho-Chunk, who made history when she was elected alongside Haaland in 2018, has penned a letter to Biden as well.
"Representative Deb Haaland has been (a) warrior for Native peoples for decades and profoundly understands the consequences of federal administration on tribal communities,” Davids wrote in November.
Earlier this week more than 100 women made up of attorneys, actors, writers and activists signed a letter written to Biden urging support.
Some signatures came from well-known figures including Cher, America Ferrera, Jane Fonda, Julianne Moore, Mandy Moore, Piper Perabo and Zoe Saldana.
(Related: By the numbers: Not exactly zero)
Indigenous organizations have also shared support.
As of Friday, a petition created by the Native Organizers Alliance has more than 7,000 signatures.
While Biden has announced secretarial picks for a number of cabinet positions including agriculture, veteran affairs and defense, it is not clear when he will announce his pick for the interior.
The Interior works with 574 federally recognized tribes and manages public lands stretching over nearly 20 percent of the United States.
This story has been corrected to reflect the nation's 574 federally recognized tribes.
Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter: @aliyahjchavez or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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