Member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians
Collections Steward at Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University
As a Turtle Mountain Chippewa woman and museum professional, the appointment of Haaland is significant for several reasons. First, it is long overdue that the Indigenous communities most directly impacted by the success or failure of the Department of the Interior has someone with both lived experience of these impacts, as a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo, and policy experience as a Western legislator. This division is responsible for meeting the trust obligations of the federal government with hundreds of Native Nations, like my own, with whom they have entered into solemn political agreements, or treaties.
As a museum professional, this division also funds the repatriation efforts of tribes through the Tribal Historic Preservation program, a critically important obligation tribes have to bring their relatives home. This division is woefully underfunded, making it hard for tribes to fully research and return their ancestors to their homelands or engage in necessary consultation with the museums that may hold them.
As a Native woman, soon-to-be Secretary Haaland’s advocacy for missing and murdered Indigenous women underscores for me her connection to issues directly affecting Native communities, and I am certain that advocacy will continue in her new role.
Interviews were edited for length and clarity
“A Conversation with Congresswoman Deb Haaland,” moderated by Linda Bilmes, Daniel Patrick Moynihan Lecturer of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, is available for viewing on the Institute of Politics website.