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Haaland prioritizing Native issues in first months of her tenure as DOI secretary

PARAJE, N.M. — Six members of the Laguna Pueblo community gathered last week in the cool, fragrant kitchen of an adobe house, discussing their hopes for “Sister Deb” — Deb Haaland, a Laguna citizen, former congresswoman from New Mexico and now secretary of the interior.

Over homemade red chile stew and green chile chicken enchiladas, Julliene Reed-Tso, an informal cultural adviser to Ms. Haaland, said she wanted greater protection of sacred lands and better federal cooperation with sovereign tribal governments. Rebecca Ray, whose ancestors built the house in Paraje, and Rebecca Touchin hope Ms. Haaland’s success inspired Native Americans to vote in the special election on Tuesday for her empty House seat. Rachael Lorenzo sees in her an important advocate for female, queer and transgender tribal citizens.

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