DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — A group of Native American tribes in a Minnesota congressman’s district is rebuking him for his attempts to derail President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for Interior secretary.
If confirmed, Rep. Deb Haaland, a Democrat from New Mexico, would be the first Native American to lead the Department of the Interior.
Republican Rep. Pete Stauber, a member of the House subcommittee on Indigenous Peoples, has been asking fellow lawmakers to join him in urging Biden’s transition team to withdraw Haaland’s nomination. As a member of the House, Stauber has no say in approving the nomination.
In a letter seeking support, Stauber cites Haaland’s opposition to oil and gas drilling on public land and her support for the Green New Deal, legislation that aims to address climate change and economic inequality.
“Nominating Representative Haaland is a direct threat to working men and women and a rejection of responsible development of America’s natural resources,” Stauber wrote in his letter.
Policies like the Green New Deal “would place a moratorium on mining in Northern Minnesota, would severely and negatively impact every economic sector and family in Northeastern Minnesota,” a statement from Stauber’s office said.
A letter dated Jan. 14 and signed by leaders of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe accuses Stauber of bowing to big industrial interests at their expense.
“This historic nomination is more important to us and all of Indian country than any other Cabinet nomination in recent history,” the tribal leaders wrote in their letter. “Your opposition to the first and only American Indian ever nominated to a Cabinet position is likely to reverberate across Indian Country.”
The Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes, which represents 35 tribal nations in the region, also wrote to Stauber, calling the lawmaker’s campaign against Haaland “offensive, “hostile” and “irresponsible.”
The chairman of the alliance, Aaron Payment, said Stauber had “subordinated the interests of Indian tribes to the interests of those you represent in your letter without any consultation with the tribes.”
Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo, serves with Stauber on the House Natural Resources Committee. If confirmed, she would lead a department with broad oversight over tribal lands in the U.S.