Kerry Washington, Cher, Mandy Moore and America Ferrera are among the more than 100 women who have signed a letter to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris asking them to nominate U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., as interior secretary. If confirmed, Haaland would become the first Native American to serve in a presidential cabinet.
The letter, dated Dec. 9, was organized by Marisa Tomei and We Stand United — a group the Oscar winner started with Mark Ruffalo — along with Allie Young, a Navajo woman from Protect the Sacred.
“We believe it is critical at this time for the first Native American to serve in the President’s Cabinet, so we can begin to shift the focus back to caring for future generations and returning to a value system that honors Mother Earth,” the letter reads, in part. “We believe that person is Congresswoman Deb Haaland.”
Others who have signed the letter include Julianne Moore, Rosario Dawson, Amy Schumer, Gloria Steinem, Zoe Saldana, Jane Fonda, Chelsea Handler, Uzo Aduba, Sarah Silverman, Alyssa Milano, Kathy Najimy, Piper Perabo and Debra Winger.
“Rep. Haaland will be a strong steward of our precious natural resources and will return to the practice of science-based decision-making,” the letter also reads. “Additionally, she will work to honor the treaties between the federal government and Tribal Nations. This is an historic opportunity to appoint a Native woman of integrity, vision and of true public service.”
Read the full letter below.
Dec. 9, 2020
Dear President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris,
Congratulations on your historic victory. As women who have worked to protect our democracy and advance the promise of this country, we are hopeful and relieved that you will be leading us into a bright future. It is in this spirit that we, Native American women and Indigenous peoples’ allies, write to urge you to appoint Congresswoman Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Department of the Interior.
We are alive at a time when each of our actions will determine the fate of the natural world, which we call Mother Earth. We call her Mother because without her life would not exist. The life support system that she provides, which is also called the climate, is now under terrible strain. Fortunately despite all of the struggles we have endured, Native people hold a sacred connection to the natural world at the moment when the human species need it most. The Department of Interior will play a critical role in your Administration to both address the climate crisis and to honor the Indigenous people of this country.
As President-elect Biden, you have said that you will be “an ally of the light not the darkness,” and Vice President-elect Harris, you have said that Native Americans will always have a seat at the table, especially when it comes to Mother Earth because we are “the Original Peoples of this land who always knew that we have to protect Mother Earth, we have to be smart about it and we must take your lead.” We believe it is critical at this time for the first Native American to serve in the President’s Cabinet, so we can begin to shift the focus back to caring for future generations and returning to a value system that honors Mother Earth. We believe that person is Congresswoman Deb Haaland.
As a Native woman, Congresswoman Haaland has endured many challenges like so many of us. She grew up in a military family where both of her parents served this country. She worked her way through college and law school as a single mother. Rep. Haaland sought to live a life of service and worked for her people at the Laguna Pueblo. She sought to create change as the Chairwoman of the State Democratic Party of New Mexico. As a member of Congress, she overcame the intense polarization in Congress and passed four bills into law with bipartisan and bicameral support including the “Not Invisible Act” and the “Justice for Native Survivors of Sexual Violence Act” both of which addresses the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Congresswoman Haaland was also instrumental in securing $8 billion for Tribal Nations within the Coronavirus Relief Fund section of the CARES Act. She is Vice Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, which oversees the Department of the Interior, and Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forest and Public Lands, and on the House Armed Services Committee. In these roles, she has been a tremendous leader and has worked on numerous bills of significance that have been signed into law.
We strongly urge you to appoint Congresswoman Deb Haaland to lead the Department of the Interior. Rep. Haaland will be a strong steward of our precious natural resources and will return to the practice of science-based decision-making. Additionally, she will work to honor the treaties between the federal government and Tribal Nations. This is an historic opportunity to appoint a Native woman of integrity, vision and of true public service.
Thank you for your consideration.
Abby Abinanti, Chief Judge Yurok Tribe
Ruth Anna Buffalo, Elected Official, North Dakota State Rep, District 27
Alexis Baden-Mayer, Organic Consumers Association, Political Director
Cheryl Barnds, Co-Chair, Rapid Shift Network
Rania Batrice, Advocate
Jade Begay, Creative Director at NDN Collective
Kellie Berns, Program Director of Earth Guardians
Laura Berry, Director of Research and Policy – The Climate Mobilization
Betta Broad, Director, New Yorkers for Clean Power
Alison Burchell, NTS Group, CEA, City of Boulder Energy Tech Team
Bridget Burns, Women’s Environment and Development Organization, Director
Linda Carroll, Research Scientist, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Rebecca Chaiklin, Documentary Filmmaker
Karletta Chief (Diné), Professor and Hydrologist
Holly Cook Macarro, Red Lake Band of Ojibwe
Rev. Jean Darling, Co-chair, Environmental Justice, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Santa Fe Rosario Dawson, Artist
Karen Diver, Former Chairwoman, Fond du Lac Band of Chippewa
Kerry Docherty, Founder of Faherty Brand
Nicole Donaghy, Executive Director North Dakota Native Vote
Jennifer Dube, 350 New Hampshire
Jane Duggan, American Postal Workers Union
Sarah Eagle Heart (Oglala Lakota), CEO of Return to the Heart Foundation
Crystal Echo Hawk (Pawnee), Executive Director IllumiNative
Lael Echo-Hawk, MThirtySix, PLLC, Tribal Attorney
Kathryn Everett, Head of Film, XTR; Steering Committee, We Stand United
America Ferrera, Artist/activist
Sandra Fluke, President, Voices for Progress
Lili Gangas, Chief Technology Community Officer at the Kapor Center
Carrie Garrow, Chief Judge, Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Court
Jaime Gloshay, Co-founder of Native Women Lead
Mary Gutierrez, Executive Director Earth Ethics, Inc.
Jenny Han, Writer
Chelsea Handler, Comedian
Jessica Harjo, Tribal Law and Policy Institute, Operations Director
Laura Harris, Comanche Nation Citizen
Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food and Water Watch
Christina Hollenback, Founding Partner Justice Capital
Lonna Hunter, Dakota and Tlingit
Gina Jackson (Western Shoshone), Co-founder and Co-CEO of the Return to the Heart Foundation