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Sec. Haaland on the significance of Native American representation

The 19th, a nonprofit newsroom focused on stories of gender and politics, kicked off their Represents summit Monday featuring various keynote speakers who will explore why representation matters in all areas like democracy, politics, sports, culture and more. NewsHour's Lisa Desjardins will be interviewing Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland about the significance of her role. Here's a sneak peak.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The 19th, an independent nonprofit newsroom, kicks off its annual weeklong summit starting today "NewsHour" is it streaming partner.

    Our own Lisa Desjardins interviewed the secretary of the interior, Deb Haaland, as part of 19th Represents event.

    Here's a sneak peek of some of that conversation.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    This country has had 580 Cabinet agency heads. You are the first one of all of those people to be Native American.

    And the president of your tribe when you were confirmed called it a defining moment, not just for indigenous people in this country, but indigenous people across the world.

    Can you talk about what you think this means for real change? And then, also, what is it like to be — you both have blessings of being in a historic moment, and if there are other moments that's a burden?

  • Deb Haaland:

    Well, of course, I feel that there's always a weight that is put on your shoulders when you're carrying essentially the hopes and dreams of hundreds of years of a community's hopes that hopes and — hopes and dreams.

    And so there — it is somewhat of a weight. But I will tell you, I have — I mean, I stand on the shoulders of so many Native Americans who have come before me, leaders in so many respects, when I think about the Native leaders who have given voice to the issues of their people through the centuries.

    So I feel confident in that respect, that they have — they have made a path for me.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    I know that you yourself are a descendant of some people who participated in the Pueblo Revolt, which is something, I have to say, I didn't learn about in school. I wasn't taught that in school.

    And I want to ask you about this concept right now of expanding what we teach and talk about in history, especially about race. There is a lot of tension over that. I wonder what you think should be the approach here, and also what you say particularly to white Americans who say they're afraid that this is about shaming America, about saying that they're racist.

    How do you respond, and what do you think we should be doing?

  • Deb Haaland:

    What our what our country has taught us, even over the last year or so, is that our history is everyone's history, and we can't deny that. History doesn't change.

    However, we can — we can choose not to learn about it. But I will say that Native American history is American history. And I feel very confidently that, if we — if we all take the time to learn about this history, as devastating and as sad and as traumatizing as it is, that we can shine a light on our past and embrace a future that we can all be proud of.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    That's just a part of Lisa's conversation with the secretary of the interior, Deb Haaland.

    And you can watch all of 19th Represents this week on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour, and on the "NewsHour"s YouTube page.

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