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At Deb Haaland's Historic Confirmation Hearing, Wyoming's Senators Are Skeptical

New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland, President Joe Biden's nominee to lead the Interior Department, delivers an opening statement as her Senate confirmation hearing began Tuesday.

Wyoming's congressional lawmakers expressed opposition during Tuesday's confirmation hearing for Secretary of the Interior Department nominee Deb Haaland.Currently, Haaland is a democratic U.S. Rep. from New Mexico and as a member of the Laguna Pueblo, she is the first Native American to be nominated for the position. Republican Sen. John Barrasso was specifically critical of Haaland's views on the energy industry, and brought up Wyoming's dependence on revenue from energy production on public lands.

Throughout the hearing, Haaland said that any changes in fossil fuel production would be under President Biden's authority.

Andi Clifford, a Northern Arapaho and Wyoming State Representative from the Wind River Indian Reservation, said that Barasso missed an opportunity to say he represents two sovereign nations, the Northern Arapaho and the Eastern Shoshone tribes.

"I think he missed a great opportunity to highlight the fact that he also represents two indigenous tribes in Wyoming who just happen to rely on oil and gas revenue too," she said.

"That we are going to have a Secretary that knows so much about what it means to live here in Wyoming. To know about the economic issues and be respectful of the land and treaties," adding that Haaland's appointment would mean having representation of tribal interests on a national stage.

In a tweet, Republican Sen. Cynthia Lummis said, "Representative Haaland will be bad for Wyoming and should not be confirmed for Interior Secretary."

Also on Tuesday, the Northern Arapaho Business Council also put out a letter asking Biden to walk back an executive order on blocking energy industry contracts on public land.

"The longer the orders remain in place the more revenue will decline and result in additional blows to our economy, the oil and gas workforce, and Wyoming's education system. This causes us great concern, as many Northern Arapaho Tribal members live in cities and towns outside the Wind River Indian Reservation, and many of our youth attend schools funded by the State."

Taylar Dawn Stagner is a central Wyoming rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has degrees in American Studies, a discipline that interrogates the history and culture of America. She was a Native American Journalist Association Fellow in 2019, and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for her Modern West podcast episode about drag queens in rural spaces in 2021. Stagner is Arapaho and Shoshone.
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