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Jonathan Nez

Navajo Nation President

As the Biden-Harris transition team works to assemble their cabinet members and White House staff, the First People of this country are anxiously awaiting to see whether President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will give Native Americans a meaningful seat at the table. 

Such a seat would provide the invaluable insight that comes from experiencing the reality of adversities, setbacks, and challenges of growing up on what federal officials refer to as “Indian reservations.”

When considering candidates with varying backgrounds, credentials, and experience, it is also important to understand where they come from, their upbringing, and what they were taught to believe and to grasp how they were able to use them to overcome struggles and adversities to be where they are today. 

Every Native American person has experienced racism, discrimination, and suppression, some of which is rooted in the history of this country and its founding, but yet we persevere and prove our resilience time and time again. 

Congresswoman Deb Haaland exemplifies this strength and resilience.

She is a proud member of the Pueblo of Laguna and one of the two very first Native American women to serve in Congress. Before she was elected to serve her first term in Congress, she experienced the struggles of being a single mother, the struggles of putting food on the table for her family, and many of the other challenges faced by working families. 

Despite these struggles, Deb knew that she wanted to make a difference in her life, her daughter’s life, and the lives of others. With few resources and little support, Congresswoman Haaland relied on the teachings of her parents and her elders to persevere, become a small business owner, and earn a law degree from the University of New Mexico.

As a member of Congress, she has been a strong voice for all tribal nations and the people of New Mexico on a wide variety of issues including land management, clean energy, economic development, social justice, and job creation. 

Her advocacy for equality and justice has never wavered and continues to grow stronger. Her ability to weigh the issues from social, economic, and political standpoints is unique and something that is not easily found.

Her unique background and experiences, dedication, and commitment to public service are exactly what we need at the helm of the Department of the Interior, especially for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education. 

We need a person like Congresswoman Haaland to lead the Department of the Interior to build a stronger relationship between the federal government and tribal nations.

The appointment of Deb Haaland would not only be historic, but it would also send a clear message to all tribes and people across America that the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to addressing the wrongs of the past and clearing a path for real change and opportunity for tribal nations. 

Jonathan Nez is the 9th and current president of the Navajo Nation. He was elected president on November 6, 2018. Before his election, Nez served as vice president from 2015 until his inauguration in early January 2019. At 43 years of age, Nez is the youngest person to have ever been elected as president of the Navajo Nation.