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MAST Congratulates Secretary-Elect Haalandon on her Historic Nomination to Biden Cabinet

Gresham, Wisconsin―(Dec. 17, 2020) The Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes (MAST) today congratulated Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-NM) for her nomination as the first Native American to serve as Secretary of the Department of Interior in U.S. History.


“We fully support Rep. Haaland’s appointment that will help turn the page to a new chapter in re-aligning the relationship between the federal government and the nation’s 574 federally recognized Indian tribes,” said Aaron Payment, Chairperson of Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Michigan, and President of MAST. “In upholding the department’s trust and treaty responsibilities, we look forward to continued collaboration and consultations on policies that continue to impact our people and our communities.”


Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin of the Mille lacs band of Ojibwe and Treasurer of MAST states “As a female leader of a tribal nation I want to extend a heartfelt congratulations to Congresswoman Deb Haaland on her historic nomination to serve as the next Secretary of the Interior. I also want to thank President – elect Joe Biden for being a man of his word as he works to ensure his cabinet reflects the diversity of our great nation. For the first time in our nation’s history, Native Americans can look upon their federal government and see a cabinet leader who has walked in our shoes and who understands how her decisions will impact our daily lives. I have no doubt Deb Haaland will do an outstanding job for Indian Country and for all of America.”



A member of the Laguna Pueblo of New Mexico, Haaland will be the first Native American in the the department’s history to lead Interior, which oversees 500 million acres of public lands, including tribal lands, as well as the country’s public lands, vast natural resources and conservation efforts.


Founded in 1996, the Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes (MAST) represents the 35 sovereign tribal nations of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Iowa. Together, MAST represents approximately 200,000 American Indian people in the Upper Midwest.

MAST's mission is to "advance, protect, preserve, and enhance the mutual interests, treaty rights, sovereignty, and cultural way of life of the sovereign nations of the Midwest throughout the 21st century." The organization coordinates important public policy issues and initiatives at the state, regional and federal levels, promotes unity and cooperation among member tribes and advocates for member tribes.