As Alaska Native women, we strongly support the historic nomination of Congresswoman Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) to run the Department of the Interior. She would make long-overdue history as the first Indigenous cabinet secretary and we have weighed in with our Alaska senators to encourage their support for her nomination. An article published by the Anchorage Daily News recently seemed to imply that there was widespread concern among Alaska Natives regarding Congresswoman Haaland’s nomination, but we find this misleading. We, the undersigned Alaska Native women, wish to speak proudly and boldly in support of the first Native woman cabinet secretary nominee.
Deb Haaland is the caring and innovative leader that Alaska and the nation need at the helm of the Department of the Interior. She will center bipartisanship, meaningful engagement with our state, and ensure that all Alaskans have a healthy environment and a healthy economy. Many of us know Deb personally. She is a person rooted in values, her culture, great pride for country, and she listens to all sides of an issue before making thoughtful and balanced decisions. She understands that our Alaska economy is struggling, and she will seek to support policies that safeguard good jobs while also creating opportunities for diversified economic development. As Deb stated in her Senate hearing this week in response to Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s questions, she is willing to meaningfully engage with our state leaders to ensure a prosperous future for all Alaskans.
In the more than 200-year history of this country’s government, there has never been a seat at the president’s cabinet table for Indigenous peoples of this country. For the first time, this long overdue and historic appointment is possible. Alaska has the highest population of Indigenous peoples per capita of any state in the union and we have too often been unrepresented or underrepresented in government leadership. Deb’s nomination by President Joe Biden to lead the Department of the Interior is deeply meaningful to us as Alaska Natives and as women. Her confirmation would mean that our children, especially our daughters, nieces, and granddaughters will see someone who looks like them leading alongside the president of the United States, and they will know that no dream is off-limits to them. We cannot overstate how important it is for her confirmation to be affirmed by the U.S. Senate, including by our Alaska senators. Any attempt to thwart her confirmation can only be interpreted by us as an attempt to thwart the inclusion of Native women’s voices at the highest levels of government.
Deb’s confirmation as Secretary of the Interior would elevate Alaska Native issues to a level never before seen. Deb has already agreed to visit Alaska early in her tenure as Secretary and has committed to conferring often with Alaskans, including Alaska Native tribal and corporation leadership. As a Congresswoman, Deb led the charge in the fight against the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and she is a leader in the fight for equality and women’s rights. Deb understands that we must not only care about our own children’s future, but we must also care about our children’s children’s future across the next seven generations. “Auntie Deb,” as she has affectionately been called by Native America, would, for the first time, bring a lived and learned understanding of Indigenous issues to the federal department that has the most influence over the future of our Indigenous communities.
We want to be clear, we support Congresswoman Deb Haaland for Secretary of the Interior. We call on our Alaska senators to support her nomination because she is the right person for the job and because there has never been a more meaningful nominee for us as Indigenous women.
Rochelle Adams, Dr. Alisa Alexander, Megan Alvanna-Stimpfle, Ella Anagick, Marina Anderson, Susan Anderson, Kay Andrews, Melanie Bahnke, Shyanne Chulyin Ch’ivaya Beatty, Wassiliisia (DeeDee) Bennis, Dr. Jessica Black, Barbara Blake, Nicole Borromeo, Melissa Borton, Christina Bringhurst, Karla Brollier, Dr. Pearl K. Brower, Andrea Akalleq (Sanders) Burgess, Gloria Burns, Barbara Cadiente-Nelson, Debra Call, Dr. Nikoosh Carlo, Kendri Cesar, Malinda Chase, Sdaahlk’awaas Della Cheney, Gail Cheney, Angela Cox, Liz Qaulluq Cravalho, Elizabeth David, Valerie Davidson, Cheryl Demmert, Michelle Demmert, Sandra Demmert, Dalee Sambo Dorough, Emily Edenshaw, Catherine Edwards, Christianna Edwards, Miciana Edwards, Mona Evan, Tricia Everson, Dr. Charleen Fisher-Salmon, Penny Gage, Tonya Garnett, Angela Gonzalez, Darla Graham, Heather Shá xat k’ei Gurko, Nicole Hallingstad, Natasha Hayden, Elizabeth Saagulik Hensley, Deenalee Hodgdon, Beverly Kikikaaq Hoffman, Doris Hugo-Shavings, Joy Huntington, Alannah Hurley, Kaaxwáan Dawn Jackson, Helena Jacobs, Kristy Jeffries, Genevieve John, Princess Daazhraii Johnson, Marlene Johnson, Mary Ann Johnson, Kim Panitchiaq Sigvaun Jorgensen, Cordelia Qiġñaaq Kellie, Heather Kendall-Miller, Kendra Kloster, Verna Kolyaha, Melissa Kookesh, Tisha Neviq’aq Kuhns, Marleah LaBelle, Lisa Lang, Sylvia Lange, Delores Larson, Dorothy Larson, Aurora Lehr, Madeline Soboleff Levy, Georgianna Lincoln, Stacey Lucason, Toni Mallott, Edna Matthew, La quen naaay Liz Medicine Crow, Michele Metz, Dr. Angela Michaud, Johanna “Jodi” Mitchell, Catrina Mitchell, MaryAlyce Moss, Debra O’Gara, Sarah Obed, Jacqueline Pata, Mary Peltola, Gah Kith Tin Alana Peterson, Chief Rhonda Pitka, Heather Lgeik’i Powell, Ayyu Qassataq, AlexAnna Salmon, Jackie Qataliña Schaeffer, Greta Schuerch, Krystalynn Scott, Grace Singh, Natasha Singh, Sophie Snow, Debbie Snyder, Michelle Atkiq Snyder, Amy Sparck, Cika Sparck, Michelle Sparck, Vera Starbard, Dr. Charlene Stern, Nicole Atanan Stoops, Karen Taug, Raina Thiele, Aleesha Towns-Bain, Tiffany Tutiakoff, Malia Villegas, Deborah Vo, Lisa Wade, Patricia Walker, Kelsey Wallace, Jonella Larson White, Kimberly Williams, Kristi Nuna’q Williams, Maria Williams, Beverly A. Woods, Brooke Woods, Crystal Worl, Lillian Worl, Rosita Worl and Tiffany Zulkosky.
Editor’s note: After the initial publication of this commentary, an additional 301 women joined as co-signers. They are: Jamie Ablowaluk of Mary’s Igloo, Phyllis Adams of Doyon, Laurel Aiyaapin of the Native Village of Unalakleet, Cindy Allred of the King Island Native Community, Judy Andree, Yodean Armour of Central Council Tlingit Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska / Klawock Cooperative Association, Dr. Dodie Arnold, Alice Bagoyo of Central Council Tlingit Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Tessa Unaliin Baldwin, Inupiaq, of the Native Village of Kiana, Marilyn Balluta, Dena’ina Athabascan, Larina Baringer of the Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Nancy C. Barnes, Alutiiq and Tsimshian, Emily Becker, Jenny Bell-Jones, Becky Bendixen, Unangax, Jo Bennett, Cynthia R. Berns of the Alutiiq Tribe of Old Harbor, Anne Biberman, Kate Hohman Billmeier, Maude Blair of the Native Village of Ambler, Jennifer Blome of Ahtna, Camille M. Booth of the Metlakatla Indian Community, Stephanie Bowen, Jackie Arnaciar Boyer of NIMA/Calista, Jasmine Boyles, Louise Brady of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, Jeane Tawihaat Breinig, Haida, Jeanette (Chickie) Carlson of the Chignik Bay Tribal Council, Courtney Carothers, Courtenay Carty, a Curyung Tribal Council citizen and Tribal Administrator as well as BBNC shareholder, Kat XoonCarla Casulucan of the Central Council of Tlingit-Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Monica Chase of the Holy Cross Tribe, Sue Christiansen, Tara Christiansen-Stiller of the Alutiiq Tribe of Old Harbor, Britteny Cioni-Haywood, Vicki Clark, Jesse Coleman, Maria Capezio Crookes, Renee Culp, Tlingit, Victoria O’Connell Curran, Iris Currey, Yup’ik, Akiak, CIRI, Patricia Turner Custard, Elisabeth Balster Dabney, Raychelle Aluaq Daniel, Yup’ik, Calista, Tuntutuliak, Sierra Daugherty, Margaret David of the Native Village of Ruby, Elise David, Rachel Delaney, a Tlingit/ Sealaska shareholder, Karissa Demmert, Tlingit, Lakota Diane DiSanto, Karol Dixon of Shageluk Native Village, Elizah Dominy, Tlingit, Sheeatika, Rachel Donkersloot, Kristen Doughty, Cora Dow, Rep. Harriet Anagnostis Drummond, Barbara Dude - Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Norma Jean Dunne of the Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Aan Shaawátk’iSarah Dybdahl, Tlingit and Haida, Sara Dykstra, Kathleen Easley, BSN, RN, NCSN, Mona Malguii Eben of the Tribal Village of Unalakleet, Lael EchoHawk, Pawnee/Athabascan, Lisa Ellanna of the King Island Native Community, Melissa Emmal, Colleen Engel, Alyssa Enriquez, Sindy Mendez Espino, April Ferguson of Curyung Tribal and BBNC, Jean Findley, Saanu Ga Gianna Willard Flanery, Haida, Tlingit, Mary Folletti, Tlingit, Rose Fosdick of the Nome Eskimo Community, Amber Frommherz, Diné, Amber Christensen Fullmer, Inupiaq, Jean Gamache of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes, Natasha Aġnaŋuluuraq Gamache of the Nome Eskimo Community, Olivia Garrett, Heather Gatti of the Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Susan Gill, Solaris Gilllispie, Alice Qannik Glenn, Inupiaq from Native Village of Barrow, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, Roberta Tuurraq Glenn, Iñupiaq, Bethany Sonsini Goodrich, Kate Winn Graber, Katya Gray of the Native Village of White Mountain, Brianna Gray of the Agdaagux Tribe, Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson, Julia Gregory - Kaagwaantaan, Tlingit, Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, a Sealaska shareholder, June Gustafson, of CIRI, Yup’ik and Athabascan, Judy Leask Guthrie, Tsimpsian, Haida and Tlingit, Alysha Guthrie, CCTHITA, Sealaska, Shee Atika, Albertina Hale, a Calista shareholder, Jana Harcharek of the Native Village of Barrow, Heather Hardcastle, Alli Harvey, Ernestine Hayes, Tlingit, Patricia Helle, Tlingit, Wuduyeey (Tasha Heumann) of the Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Sandra L. Hill of the Native Village of Hooper Bay, Limala’u Kaneyo Hirata, Erin Hollowell, Kacey Qunmiġu Hopson, Iñupiaq, enrolled citizen of Native Village of Barrow, Gayla Hoseth - Curyung Tribal Council, Christy Howard, Joyce Hughes, Jessica Hyatt, Tlingit (Central Council Tlingit Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska), Julie Roberts Hyslop, Native village of Tanana, Asaaluk Irelan, King Island Native Community, Leslie Ishii, Roben Itchoak, Mary’s Igloo, Faith Itta, Native Village of Shishmaref, Christine Cassidy Itta, Tricia Ivanoff, Native Village of Unalakleet, Laureli V. Ivanoff, Native Village of Unalakleet, Edna Davis Jackson, Organized Village of Kake, Desiree Jackson, Ketchikan Indian Community, Ruth Jensen, Tlingit (enrolled in Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and Sealaska), Linnea John, Mary E. Johnson, Sitka Tribe of Alaska, Lydia Johnson, Phoenix Johnson, Tlingit & Haida, Adda Kayéilk’i Johnson, Yakutat Tlingit Tribe, Mellisa Maktuayaq Johnson, Inupiaq, Clarice Johnson, Sitka Tribe of Alaska, Tlingit and Haida Central Council, Sealaska, Shee Aitka, Ashley Johnston, Tlingit, LaRae Jones, Charity Jurkowski, New Koliganek Village Council, Lisa Ka’ano’i, Native Village of Savoonga Nicole Kaganak - Napakiak Tribe, Iviilik Hattie Keller, Nome Eskimo Community, Bering Straits Native Corporation, Sitnasuak Native Corporation & Shishmaref Native Corporation, Mary Kelsay, Village of Nikolski, Suzie (Wanda Sue) Kendrick, Millie A. Kennedy, Metlakatla Indian Community, Tsimshian, Amy Kesten, McKenzie Knudson, Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indians and Sealaska Corporation, Krystal Kompkoff, Chugach Alaska Corporation, Susan LaBelle, Native Village of Port Graham, Cindi Lagoudakis, Kate Laird, Inez Larsen, Tlingit & Kluane First Nation, Carissa Larson, Native Village of Afognak, Charlotte LaRue, Gwich’yaa Zhee Gwich’in Tribal Government, Lindsay Layland, Janie Leask, Haida-Tsimshian, Cook Inlet Region, Inc., Caitlin Lenahan, Beth Leonard, Shageluk Tribe, Kathleen Light, Hannah Lindoff, Dr. Maureen Longworth, adopted to Kaagwaantaan clan from Klukwan of the Eagle side of Tlingit Nation, Mrs. Nikki Love, Tlingit Maija Katak Lukin, Native Village of Kotzebue, Erin Dougherty Lynch, Jessica Macaraeg, Nome Eskimo Community, Etta Maillard, Caroline Frey Malseed, Mackenzie Mancuso, Naknek Native Village (Yup’ik), Fran March, Tacuk Martz - Cup’ik, Helenmarie Matesi, Jen Maje Maynard, Kaska, Kathy Mayo, Native Village of Eagle, Robin McAllistar, Jennifer Apausuk McCarty-Charette, Inupiaq, Bering Straits Native Corporation Krista Kaashdèilge McDonald, CCTHITA, Christina McDonogh, Sugpiaq, Alison McKay, Bering Straits Native Corporation, Hunter Meachum, Tlingit, Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Dabney Meachum, Tlingit, Nazune Menka - Koyukon Athabascan, Rene Merchant - Nome Eskimo Community, Inupiaq, Bering Straits shareholder, Bobbie Meszaros - Tlingit, Sealaska Nancy Metashvili, Vera Metcalf - Savoonga Tribe, Michelle Meyer - Yakutat Tlingit Tribe, Melina Meyer, Native village of Eyak, Julia Mickley, Melody Millard, Mary E. Miller, Kat Napaaqtuk Milligan-Myhre, Inupiaq, NANA, Laura Minne, Karina Moeller, Inupiaq, Rachel Moreno, Tlingit, Kasiana Marie Mork, Tlingit and Dena’ina Athabaskan, Dr. Adrianna Muir, Nikole Nelson, Bonnie Newman, Tsimsean and Haida Sealaska, Hannah Newton, Maio Nishkian, Vanessa R. Norman, Native Village of Port Graham, Vickie Novak, Native Village of Ouzinke Margot O’Connell, Serene Rose O’Hara-Jolley, Chandler O’Connell, Eva O’Malley, Chevak Native Tribe, Pulgeenok Methanie Ongtooguk, Kotzebue Tribe (Inupiaq), Supanika Ordonez, Anna Oxereok, Native Village of Wales, Bess Pagel, Nome Eskimo, Kiatcha Lillian Ivanoff Palmer, Inupiaq/Tlingit, Rebecca Patterson, Cathy Pegau, Renea Perry, Tlingit, Denbigh Sockpealuk Perry, Native Village of Shaktoolik, Paula Peterson, Organized Village of Kasaan, Dr. Paneen Peterson, Native Village of Kotzebue, Donna Platt, Chugach Alaska Corporation, Anastasia Pleasant, Orutsararmuit Native Council, Yup’ik & Inupiaq, shareholder of Calista Corporation, Rachel Potter, Jody Potts, Native Village of Eagle, Tammy Fowler Pound, Emily Pound, Sheila Seetomona Randazzo, Native Village of Shishmaref, Brittany Retherford, Laura Revels, Tlingit, Carol Richards, Tribal Village of Kotzebue, Ana Richards, Sharon Rida, Nome Eskimo Community, Katie Riley, Nadia Riley, Hope Roberts, Tlingit/Athabascan, Eva Rowan, Tlingit, Irene Sparks Rowan, Agnes Rychnovsky, Newhalen Tribe, Phyllis Sanford, Chugach, Cecil Sanford, Mentasta Traditional Council, Marna Sanford, Anna Sappah, Alutiiq/Doyon, Bonnie Scheele, Inupiaq Nome Eskimo Community, Janet Schichnes, Tiera Uqiilaq Schroeder - Curyung Tribe, Yup’ik, Autum Schumacher, Jody Seitz, Patsy Shaha - Native Cillage of Perryville, Josephine Shangin - Native Village of Akutan; Aleut Corporation shareholder, Mary Essaaq Sherbick - Yup’ik, Dorothy Shockley, Upper Koyukon Athabascan, Caribou Clan, Yarrow Silvers, Lorena Skonberg of the Native Village of Ouzinkie/Ouzinkie Native Corp, Darlene Snyder of Kotzebue IRA, Anna Marie Sorensen, Ekatrina Oleksa Sotomayor, Yup’ik (Kuiggluk/ Calista), Susan Soule, Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, Holly Stanton, Athabascan-Yupik, Heidi Stears, Carrie Stevens, Penelope Oswalt Stimson, Emily Sullivan, Sarah Switzer, ChandreIqugan Szafran, Inupiaq, Native Village of Council, Bering Straits Native Corporation, Saralyn Tabachnick, Rep. Geran Tarr, Theresa Tavel, Aspen Theone, Sara Thiele, Dena’ina Athabascan and Yupik, June Ashana Thiele, Dena’ina Athabascan and Yup’ik, Delaney Naruyaq’ Thiele of CIRI, Shannon Thompson of Alexander Creek, CIRI, Angute’karaq (Estelle) Thomson, Yup’ik, Christine Tiedeman of Chugach/Eyak/Tatitlek, Kristin Timm, Lillian Tinsley, Dena’ina Athabascan, Adrienne Aakaluk Titus of the Native Village of Unalakleet, Meghan “Sigvanna” Topkok of the Native Village of Ambler, Bridie Trainor of the Nome Eskimo Community, Liza Lynn Tran, Darlene Trigg of the Nome Eskimo Community, Lily H. Tuzroyluke of the Native Village of Point Hope, Liliane Ulukivaiola, Viola Vaska, The Aleut Corporation, Unangan, Michele Vasquez, Sonia Vent, Chelsea Vukovich, Asapi Waaghyi, Kukulget Inc. (SLI Yupik) Cathy Walling, Katherine Walters, Lukmak’ Warren of CCTHITA, Sealaska descendant, Julianne Warren, Erica Watson, Jill Weitz, Maleah Wenzel, Tlingit, Freda Westman, Tlingit, Tara Wheatland, Lily Fawn White, Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma (living in Nome since 2008) Debbie Whitecar, Shelley Wickstrom, Kirsten Willett, Alicia Williams, Tlingit and Athabascan, Sandra Wilson of the Metlakatla Indian Community, Charlene Wolfe, Carol Wren, Curyung, Ann Yadon, Rebecca Young - Iñupiaq, Liz Zacher, Mariah Zackar, Kayla Zeigler, Evon Zerbetz, BSNC and Shaax’Saani, Tlingit.
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