World news – The Republicans couldn’t sink Deb Haaland’s nomination – and they looked like fools

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Representative Debra Haaland (DN.M.) arrives to speak before a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing about her appointment as Secretary of the Interior on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, April 24th February 2021, to testify. (Sarah Silbiger via AP)

Deb Haaland, a tribal citizen of Laguna Pueblo and President Joe Biden’s election to lead the Home Office, is on the edge of history. If approved by the Senate, she would be the first Native American cabinet secretary. The interior manages one-fifth of the land and the vast reserves of natural resources, all of which are native to the indigenous population, as well as the lion’s share of Indian federal politics. This makes Haaland’s appointment even more significant – not just symbolic, but a real restoration of power for a people who have lost almost everything.

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Despite this remarkable moment, the public is still largely unknown with the woman who represents New Mexico’s first congressional district. A poll of over 1,100 likely voters conducted in late January by Data for Progress, the think tank I work for, found that about 50 percent of those polled hadn’t heard from her. That meant many Americans would meet Haaland through this week’s confirmation hearing. And Republicans wanted this introduction to be as painful as possible for them, Biden, and the Democratic Party. In an attempt to block Haaland’s nomination, Conservatives on the Senate Energy Committee threw a barrage of criticism and questions on her, trying to provoke the kind of charged exchanges that Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity can turn into incendiary diabetes in Fox News.

However, the hearings did not result in any content for the right-wing indignation machine. As I wrote, I kept Fox News in the background, checking Twitter, YouTube, and the Fox News website for coverage of Haaland’s hearing, but found little in conservative media. With West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat widely viewed as a casting vote who announced his support for Haaland on Wednesday, Republicans appear to have failed.

A likely reason for the GOP’s defeat: Most Republicans made a fool of themselves when they tried to get Haaland into an argument.

Wyoming Republican John Barasso, the senior Republican on the committee, set the tone for his party Tuesday by characterizing a Biden Executive Ordinance calling new permits for oil and gas drilling and leasing on public land as  » Sledgehammer for the Economy of Western States ”paused. When Haaland didn’t rise, he turned to her tweets, including a recent one that said, « Republicans Don’t Believe Science. » (For what it’s worth, Barasso said in 2014, « The climate is constantly changing. The role human activity plays is unknown. ») On Wednesday, Barasso poked his index finger into his desk and yelled at Haaland, blaming him second. Term representative of the conspiracy to replace the income from taxes on fossil fuels with taxes on marijuana. (Haaland didn’t do such a thing – although it sounds like an interesting idea.) When it was his turn, Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy asked Haaland if she was « being guided by a prejudice against fossil fuels » . Utah’s Mike Lee, expressing dissatisfaction with the designation of Bears Ears as a national monument, asked Haaland if she thought it « appropriate that people with ties to the country … be involved in the national monument designation process? » Haaland’s Pueblo relatives are among the tribes who consider bear ears sacred and trace their connection to the land back more than 35 generations. The irony of the line of inquiry was apparently lost to Lee.

When Senator Steve Daines, the Montana Republican who led the Crusade against Haaland, asked the Secretary-Designate why she was supporting a bill for the permanent protection of grizzly bears, Haalands became matter-of-fact Answer viral: « I imagine when I took care of them the bears. » Topical topic

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Like many Aborigines, I signed up to watch the hearing and with the hashtag #D ebForInterior to tweet live. On Tuesday, after Daines and the Republicans returned to their offices without a TV clip, I started using a different hashtag: #BearsForDeb. I even created a new account, @ Bears4Deb, to support Haaland and have some internet fun at the expense of the GOP. His first tweet: « #BearsForDeb, because Deb is for the bears !! »

Jokes aside, there is a poetic justice that Fox News is not going to introduce Haaland to the public. As indigenous people, we always had outsiders who slandered our history. But when Haaland moves towards Senate endorsement, the story of the woman who broke so many barriers will instead be defined by us.

And that definition is deeply loving. Many of us have made it our business to call Haaland « Aunt Deb » because we in the Indian country often use this familiar word to women who look after us like a family. And Haaland reminds the natives of these aunts for their visits to their grandmother in the village of Laguna Pueblo in Mesita, their pride in tradition, their past efforts to keep a roof over their heads, their generosity and kindness of spirit, their demeanor of malice, their improbable ascension, their love for family, their willingness to fight for us, and much more. If she wins, our people win. And we have waited a long time for this.

After every Republican on the committee tried and failed to get the best out of her, Haaland responded with grace, repeating that she was looking forward to working with the nervous senators. And I guess she meant business. She presented most of the bills at the 116th Congress, with bipartisan support from all freshmen. Because, of course, their affirmation and indigenous empowerment are not at the expense of others. On the contrary: your term of office will finally mark the inclusion of all – including and especially the extinguished and forgotten First Peoples of this country.

Julian Brave NoiseCat is a member of the Type Media Center and Vice President of Policy and Strategy at Data for Progress.

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