This story is a staff report from The Paper.


New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo and the first Native American to be nominated to lead a national cabinet department, entered the Senate Energy Committee today for day one of her confirmation to head the sprawling US Department of Interior and its 70,000 employees.

If you need a primer on what’s at stake and the behind-the-scenes handwringing inside the Biden’s transition team, here you go:

As anticipation about the hearing built, New Mexicans and Native Americans began to weigh in.

New Mexico’s Indian Affairs Department noted the historic nature of the nomination of a Native woman to lead a national cabinet department.

Overnight, IllumiNative projected a huge picture of Haaland, wearing her Laguna traditional clothing, on the front of the Interior Department’s offices on the National Mall.

State Rep. Georgene Louis, a Democrat lawmaker of Acoma heritage running to replace Haaland in Congress, used the hearing as a chance to organize votes for Deb (and some support for own campaign, no doubt).

Ditto for Victor Reyes, another Democrat looking to follow Haaland to Congress. He shared a video from AOC about the moment.

Haaland shared a behind-the-scenes photo of her and Senator Martin Heinrich before the hearing.

Haaland began her testimony with a statement in her Native pueblo language, a first for a cabinet nominee.

She faced opposition from Republicans anxious about President Biden’s push for more renewable energy and stronger protections for public lands, wildlife and Native obligations.

That prompted someone with too much time on their hands to create a new Twitter account.

Senator Mike Lee, (R-Utah) asked Haaland about the importance of including stakeholders in public land decisions. We don’t think he understood the irony of asking a Native American woman that question.

As the first day of Haaland’s hearing came to a close, Democrats began organizing for day two.

Bonus: But our favorite tweet of the day was also the most heartfelt. Deb’s daughter Somah tweeted this simple “how it started, how it ended” message about her mom.

Haaland’s hearing will continue tomorrow (Wednesday) at 10 a.m. in DC (8 a.m. local New Mexico time). Watch it at

Watch the entire hearing on C-Span here: