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In Indian Country, Tears, Hope And Defiance Over Nomination of Haaland

“American Indians have high hopes that Deb Haaland, Biden’s pick for interior secretary, can reset the troubled relationship between the federal government and Indigenous peoples. Can she deliver?”

“BERNALILLO, N.M. — In her little home office, a cubbyhole in an apartment north of Albuquerque, Phoebe Suina was listening to the start of yet another presentation on a long Zoom call.

Then suddenly the speaker’s eyes teared up and her voice shook as she shared news: President-elect Joe Biden had selected Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), a Pueblo Indian like herself and most of the 20 people on the call, to become interior secretary.

“My first line was, Are you for real? Am I dreaming?” said Suina, who also started to cry. Her daughter and son rushed to her side. “In our native language, they asked, ‘Why are you crying, Mom?’ And I told them these were tears of joy.””

Darryl Fears, Dana Hedgpeth, and Reid Singer report for the Washington Post December 24, 2020.