Debra Haaland

In honor of Native American Heritage Month


Paloma Ocampo, Senior Editor

Debra Anne Haaland was born on December 2, 1960, and is an American politician serving as the U.S. Representative from New Mexico’s 1st congressional district. The district includes most of Albuquerque, along with most of its suburbs. Haaland is a former leader of the Democratic Party of New Mexico.

Haaland was born in Winslow, Arizona.  She is an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo people.  Her mother, Mary Toya, a Native American woman, served in the United States Navy. Her father, Major J. D. “Dutch” Haaland, a Norwegian American, was an officer in the United States Marine Corps and recipient of the Silver Star for his actions in Vietnam; he was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in 2005.

Halland is one of the first two Native American women elected to the United States Congress. During the swearing-in ceremony in January 2019, Haaland wore a traditional Pueblo dress, necklace and boots.  On March 7, 2019, during a debate on voting rights and campaign finance, Haaland became the first Native American woman to preside over the U.S. House of Representatives.

In November 2020, Haaland was named a candidate for Secretary of the Interior in the Biden Administration.