Biden’s Nominee to Manage U.S. Interior Deb Haaland: ‘I Acknowledge’ Capitol Sits on Indian Land

Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) said on Tuesday at her confirmation hearing to be secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI) that she had to “acknowledge” that Capitol Hill, which includes the U.S. Capitol and House and Senate office buildings, is on land belonging to Native Americans.

“I wouldn’t be here without the love and support of my child Somah, partner Skip, my mom Mary Toya, my extended family, and generations of ancestors who sacrificed so much so I could be here today,” Haaland said in her opening statement before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. “I acknowledge that we are on the ancestral homelands of the Nacotchtank, Anacostan, and Piscataway people.”

Haaland’s nomination is controversial because as DOI secretary she would be in charge of 640 million acres, or about 28 percent, of all of the land in the United States and would be enforcing President Joe Biden’s moratorium on new drilling leases on federal land.

Senators in western states who are on the committee noted how Biden’s move is hurting their economies and has caused thousands of people to lose their jobs, including ranking member Rep. John Barrasso (R-WY), who said Haaland embracing Biden’s hostility toward fossil fuels is “radical.”

Haaland dodged questions from Barrasso and other Republicans who tried to pin her down on past statements about banning fracking and ending oil and gas production on federal land.

“I will be serving at the pleasure of the president,” Haaland said, adding that she will be advancing Biden’s agenda and not her own.

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