On Monday, Rep. Deb Haaland became the first Native American confirmed to serve in the president’s Cabinet — a historic moment celebrated by American Indians throughout the country.
In California, which is home to 109 federally recognized tribes and more people of Native ancestry than any other state, expectations are high. Not only will Haaland, a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo, have a seat at the table — she will lead the Interior Department, the branch of the federal government that has more involvement in tribes’ affairs than any other.
In the lead-up to the 51-40 Senate confirmation vote, The Times asked tribal leaders about their hopes for Haaland (D-N.M.) and how she might reshape the agency’s relationship with Indigenous Americans. Many wished for more land, more help for tribal businesses and a simpler process to petition for federal recognition.
Some are skeptical that she will be able to make lasting changes to a…