US President-elect Joe Biden is nominating a Native American to become his interior minister and head of the body governing public land, US media said.
If his candidacy is approved, Deb Haaland will be the first Native American to head the department and play an important role in Native American affairs.
Deb Haaland, currently a member of the US Congress, will also become the first Native American to serve in the cabinet.
Indigenous rights groups and progressive Democratic politicians have pushed for the nominations for the New Mexico lawmaker in recent weeks.
"It is an honor to advance the Biden-Harris climate agenda, help improve relations between the government and the tribes that the Trump administration has damaged, and become the first Native American minister in our nation's history," Haaland said in a statement quoted from New York Times.
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Haaland, 60 years old, is a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe. She previously made history as one of only two Native American women elected to Congress in 2018.
The Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, described Haaland as one of the most respected members of Congress.
The progressive Democratic politician, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, hailed Haaland's candidacy as "historic at many levels".
"She brings a commitment to climate and justice to that position. Having a native woman, who is also progressive, in charge of land is a huge historical weight."
US President-elect Joe Biden is nominating a Native American to become his interior minister. (Reuters)
If he becomes interior minister, Haaland will play a key role in implementing environmental policy in Joe Biden's administration.
This includes promises to reduce the use of fossil fuels.
The state of Haaland in New Mexico is part of the US Climate Alliance and has set its climate goals boldly.
Haaland also has two years of experience in the parliamentary committee on natural resources.
In all, it will oversee 500 million acres of federal land, 62 national parks and work with 1.9 million Native Americans from 574 federally recognized tribes.
The secretary of the interior also manages the Trust Fund Administration Bureau, which handles Native American finances, and the Indian Bureau of Education.
Biden has selected Jake Sullivan, Linda Thomas-Greenfield and Antony Blinken to fill a number of key roles. (Getty Images / Reuters)
His appointment will also be significant in the cultural field, as the interior department has a history of conflict with Native American groups.
For example, much of the land in national parks in the US, such as Yellowstone National Park, is taken by the US government from indigenous peoples lands.
More than 120 indigenous elders joined in a petition supporting Haaland. In addition, celebrities and environmental activists also called for Biden to vote for him.
The Change.org petition for Haaland's election received nearly 40,000 signatures by Thursday (17/12).
Haaland's candidacy leaves a smaller majority of Democrats in the lower house of Congress - just three seats until Haaland's successor and other cabinet members are elected.
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