Debra Haaland became the first Native American ever to be confirmed as a Cabinet secretary on Monday.
The Senate voted 51-40 to confirm the Democratic congresswoman.
Haaland commenced her opening remarks by introducing herself to senators in her tribal language of Keresan.
“This historic nature of my confirmation is not lost on me, but I will say it’s not about me. Rather, I hope this nomination would be an inspiration for Americans moving forward together as one nation and creating opportunities for all of us,” Haaland said.
The department not only manages the country’s public lands, endangered species and natural resources, itis also responsible for the government-to-government relations between the U.S. and Native American tribes.
Prior to her confirmation, Haaland, A first-term Democrat from New Mexico in the US Congress and a member of the Laguna Pueblo people she would become honored to serve in the role.
Not everyone was happy about Haaland’s confirmation.
“I’m deeply concerned with the congresswoman’s support on several radical issues that will hurt Montana, our way of life, our jobs and rural America,” said Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, who pushed to block Haaland’s confirmation.
Daines’ efforts proved to be in vain.
“It would be an honor to move the Biden-Harris climate agenda forward, help repair the government-to-government relationship with tribes that the Trump Administration has ruined, and serve as the first Native American cabinet secretary in our nation’s history,” Haaland said in a statement published by The New York Times.
Haaland will oversee a department responsible for some 500 million acres of public lands, including national parks, oil and gas drilling sites and endangered species habitat.
“A voice like mine has never been a Cabinet secretary or at the head of the Department of Interior,” Haaland tweeted back in December. “Growing up in my mother’s Pueblo household made me fierce. I’ll be fierce for all of us, our planet, and all of our protected land. I am honored and ready to serve.”