Despicable fascist Republicans attack Deb Haaland at her confirmation hearing

Deb Haaland, seeking to make history as the first Native American to hold a cabinet secretary position in the US, has weathered a torrent of hostile questioning from Republicans during her confirmation hearing as secretary of the interior.

In a striking opening statement, Haaland, a member of Congress for New Mexico, said “the historic nature of my confirmation is not lost on me, but I will say that it is not about me”, adding that she hoped her elevation would “be an inspiration for Americans, moving forward together as one nation and creating opportunities for all of us”.

A Laguna Pueblo member, Haaland, 60, said she learned about her culture from her grandmother’s cooking, participating in traditional ceremonies, and learning about the importance of protecting the environment from her grandfather. Haaland said “our climate challenge must be addressed” but conceded that fossil fuels will play a role in the US for “years to come”.

Haaland is considered a progressive on the climate crisis and has previously spoken out on the impact of fossil fuel development upon the environment and Native American tribes, positions that Senate Republicans were keen to attack during a sometimes-contentious confirmation hearing.

John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, criticized Haaland for a tweet from October 2020 in which she stated that “Republicans don’t believe in science”. Barrasso, who has previously incorrectly said the role of human activity in climate change is “not known” and that ambitious climate action in the form of the Green New Deal would mean “cheeseburgers and milkshake would become a thing of the past”, said the tweet was “concerning to those of us who have gone through training, believe in science, and yet with a broad brush, we’re all disbelievers”.

Haaland responded to Barrasso, a surgeon, saying that “if you’re a doctor, I would assume that you believe in science”. Scientists have repeatedly said that the US, and the rest of the world, needs to rapidly reduce planet-heating emissions from fossil fuels in order to prevent disastrous heatwaves, flooding and societal unrest associated with runaway climate change.

The early exchange set the tone for more than two hours of questioning where Republicans repeatedly assailed Joe Biden’s decision to pause oil and gas drilling on federal lands as calamitous for jobs. As interior secretary, Haaland would oversee the management of lands that make up nearly a third of America’s landmass, including tribal lands.

At times the questions were extremely pointed, with Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican, asking Haaland: “Will your administration be guided by a prejudice against fossil fuel, or will it be guided by science?” Importantly for the chances for Haaland’s nomination, Joe Manchin, a Democrat who represents the coal heartland of West Virginia, said that he wanted to see the “evolution not elimination” of coal mining.

Haaland said that “we want to move forward with clean energy, we want to get to net zero carbon” but also struck a conciliatory note with her questioners. The nominee said that changes to energy use “are not going to happen overnight” and that she looked forward to working with the senators. At one point when Steve Daines, a Montana Republican, asked why she supported a bill protecting grizzly bears – Haaland responded: “Senator, I believe I was caring about the bears.”

Haaland had to repeatedly correct Republicans who said Biden had scrapped, rather than paused, oil and gas leases but acknowledged her role as a progressive champion would have to change somewhat if she were confirmed. “If I’m confirmed as secretary, that is far different role than a congresswoman representing one small district in my state,” she said. “So I understand that role, it’s to serve all Americans not just my one district in New Mexico. I realize being cabinet is very different, I recognize there is a difference in those two roles.”

During later questioning, Haaland raised the disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic upon native Americans and raised concerns over tribes such as the Navajo being subjected to polluted water. In a response to a question from the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders about the opening up of an area sacred to native Americans in Arizona to mining, Haaland said she would “make sure that the voice of the tribal nation is heard on the issue”.

Haaland’s nomination has been vigorously supported by environmental and Native American groups as a landmark moment to confront the climate crisis while addressing widespread inequities experienced by tribes.

Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the steering committee for the Gwich’in people in Alaska, said that Haaland is a “visionary leader who knows we must protect places sacred to the American people like the Arctic national wildlife refuge.

“Our way of life, our survival is interconnected to the land, water and animals. Today we honor the woman set to be the first Native American in history to fill a presidential cabinet position, and look forward to working with her to ensure that indigenous voices are heard and our human rights respected.”

Indigenous, a Woman, an Environmental-rights activist, river defender; death by assassination


On Thursday, Berta Cáceres, a 44-year-old mother of four and one of the Central American nation’s most prominent environmental defenders, was murdered in her home in western Honduras. The slaying followed years of death threats in the human rights group Global Witness calls the most dangerous nation in the world for environmental activists.

Local police say the killing occurred during an attempted robbery, but her family and supporters call her death by two armed men an “assassination.”

The United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, said today that “it is highly probable that her assassination is linked with her work in protecting the human rights of the Lenca indigenous peoples to their lands and territories.”

Since 2009, Cáceres had been given special protection by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights because of the death threats. In 2013, Cáceres led a yearlong protest of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque River that scared off foreign investment and stalled the project.

“The Gualcarque River is very important, it is a sacred river for the Lenca people,” Cáceres told journalist Jenni Monet in January.

Monet conducted one of the last interviews with Cáceres before her death.

“In a word, Berta was amazing,” Monet says. “She had a loyal circle of followers, and people who just believed in the kind of indigenous nation-building that she was doing.”

Monet says Cáceres was very aware of the danger she was in while fighting to protect indigenous lands, but the 44-year-old mother of four continued her activism.

“Much of the strength that my mother has to do this work comes from my grandmother,” Caceres’s daughter, Bertita Cáceres, said in January.

“[My grandmother] was a social activist in the 80s during the time of the dictatorships,” Bertita Cáceres said, “and so she very well understands the risks that my mother faces and would never think my mom should not do what she does because of fear.”

According to the AP, the US ambassador to Honduras on Friday called on the country to “quickly and comprehensively” clarify the circumstances surrounding Cáceres’ murder.

“We call for a rapid and thorough investigation so that the weight of the law will be applied to those responsible,” said ambassador James Nealon.

Since 2010, more than 100 environmental activists have been killed in Honduras. Global Witness, the human rights group, says an average of two people are killed every week defending their land, forests and waterways against agriculture, logging or energy projects.


(Washington, DC) – Honduras should ensure that its investigation into the killing of the indigenous leader and environmental-rights activist Berta Cáceres is exhaustive and unbiased, Human Rights Watch said today.

In the early hours of March 3, 2016, gunmen broke into Cáceres’s home in La Esperanza, Intibuca, and shot her dead, media accounts said. The killers escaped without being identified. Cáceres’s family and colleagues have said they believe that she was murdered because of her work on behalf of indigenous and environmental rights.

“A thorough and impartial investigation is absolutely critical to ensure that those responsible for Cáceres’s death are brought to justice,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch.

Cáceres, a member of the Lenca indigenous group, cofounded the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) and led a campaign against the construction of the Agua Zarca Dam on the Gualcarque River. The Chinese state-owned company Sinohydro, the world’s largest dam builder, pulled out of the construction in 2013, publicly citing “ongoing community resistance and outrage.”

Several COPINH members have been attacked and killed during protests, but no one responsible for the attacks has been brought to justice. Cáceres herself had received multiple death threats, media accounts said. In 2009, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) asked the Honduran government to adopt measures to guarantee her safety, but the threats continued.

At a news conference last week, Cáceres said that four community leaders opposed to the dam had been killed since 2013 and that several others had received threats. On February 20, security forces detained more than 100 people who participated in a COPINH protest near the Agua Zarca Dam site, the New York Times reported.

Cáceres was awarded the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize for South and Central America, which honors grassroots leaders for efforts to protect the natural environment. Upon receiving the prize, she said, “they follow me. They threaten to kill me, to kidnap me. They threaten my family. This is what we face.”

USH versus HSU: The serfs rise up against the overlords

It has always been a great benefit for the community to have a University located here. The problems have always stemmed from the State Administrators who have run it. They have generally been oblivious and insensitive to their impacts on the community. So it doesn’t surprise us that they would treat their own the same way.

The occupation/demonstration was a great first step, now the hard part, negotiating with the intractable HSU administration. We wish you great success with the struggle.

Here is the Unified Students story it their own words;

While much of the focus surrounding this developing act of protest has centered around issues of Native American Education, Unified Students of Humboldt is a coalition of concerned students of Color and their allies, committed to promoting direct dialogue between students and administration to represent all pertinent perspectives. Support from the wider Humboldt and Tribal communities whom the University serves reveals a latent desire for involvement in local education from the larger community.

List of Demands

HSU has the opportunity to set a precedent for which the entire CSU system may follow and better the course of education for all. Participate and negotiate in open dialogue regarding these demands in the presence of a mediator.

jacquelyn  bolman

Reinstate and secure Dr. Jacquelyn Bolman’s position as Director of INRSEP!


Unified Students of Humboldt Demands:

  1. Reinstate and secure Dr. Jacquelyn Bolman’s position as Director of INRSEP.
  2. We demand a full and effective participation in the hiring process and the protection of staff and faculty.

2a. Students, Faculty and Staff have a unique discernment on their prospective programs. They must have an effective voice in any changes in their structure, employees and funding.

  • Hire and retain more People of Color. We demand full effective participation in a transparent hiring process for HSU staff, faculty and administration. We as students demand equal voting power on hiring, promotion, tenure committees and dismissal procedures in selecting and dismissing HSU staff, faculty and administration in order to ensure greater diversity at HSU. Adopt a ⅓ students, ⅓ faculty, ⅓ administration model for these procedures. Faculty, Staff and Students who operate and participate in programs should be the ultimate say in the fate of their programs. (Implement immediately)
  • Honor instead of retaliating against HSU staff and faculty who support students of color and our advocates. We demand these rights for our faculty and staff under the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 and Educational Code 66301 (Section F) to protect their first Amendment rights.

(Implement Immediately)

  1. Indian Tribes have a unique government to government relationship with the United States. They must have an effective voice in any changes that happens to Native Programs at Humboldt State University.
  • Acknowledge to Native American Tribes their inherent and legal rights to being involved with their Tribal Member’s education. Adopt a ¼ Native Leaders, ¼ Native Students, ¼ Faculty, ¼ Administration model for the equal voting power on hiring, promotion, tenure committees and dismissal procedures in selecting and dismissing Native HSU staff, faculty and administration in order to ensure greater diversity at HSU. (Implement immediately)
  • Engage in a coalition regarding interrelation and education with the local Tribal Communities to better understand the population HSU serves. (Implement immediately)
  • The currently named “Bolman Forum,” as a symbolic gesture for our residency, it is not the “BSS Forum” and is for the Indigenous Community. The Indigenous Community will be in charge of approving and booking the classes and events in Bolman Forum in ensure priority to Indigenous education and activities. The Indigenous Community will decide on the final name of the space. (Implement immediately)
  1. Fully fund our Diversity Programs.
  • Reallocate the $40,000 promised to be restored by President Richmond to the INRSEP Program in a meeting last May. (Implement by April 2015)
  • Approve the Native American Tax to help secure and fund our programs. (Implement by April 2015)
  • Approve grants and scholarships for marginalized students including the Undocu Scholarship and decrease the current 40 percentage withdraw for administration affairs from these scholarships. (Implement by April 2015)
  • Students should be given a clear and easy choice (email sent directly to their HSU account) to be able to opt out of the athletic portion of the IRA fee (Spring 2015: 6.1+ units =$262.41/semester, 0-6 units = $156.51) and to opt in the same amount of money into a (to be created) diversity program portion of the IRA fee (including but not limited to ITEPP and INRSEP).
  1. Encourage and approve of expression from the student population regarding cultural issues.
  • Secure a place for the “mural project” to occur on campus and immediately allow the fruition of this process to take place. (Implement immediately)
  • Approve the Native American Alumni Association. (Implement immediately)
  • Free speech on campus should not be accessible on campus in one designated place for one hour a day. Consult with the student population on campus to create more freedom of expression. (Implement Immediately)
  • Support more experiences for students to provide visions of student success and task forces from the bottom up, not from the top down. Provide resources for students to implement these experiences with grant money and program funding.
  1. Support Higher Education for Indigenous Students by expanding our Indigenous Programs and Departments.
  • Maintain and support programs with cross major advisors including ITEPP and INRSEP, secure their positions and funding. (Implement immediately)
  • Fully Staff our programs, INRSEP and ITEPP, granting both programs 3 full time and permanent positions. (Implement by April 2015)
  • Honor the 2004 Strategic Plan and fully staff the Native American Studies Department. Grant the department 5 full time, permanent positions. Return mismanaged funds to the Native American Studies Department from the Anthropology Department. (Implement Immediately)
  • We demand that the programs in which RISS has appropriated should be moved back into their respective Colleges, this includes ITEPP to the College Professional Studies and INRSEP to the College of Natural Resources. (Implement immediately)
  1. Integrate Indigenous Education into the HSU Student Curriculum, HSU Hiring Practices and Student Orientation Process.
  • Incorporate cross sectional access for degree requirements that involve studies surrounding people of color. One example of many; Black History and Native American Studies is American History and should meet curriculum criteria for History Majors and Minors. (Implement by Fall 2015)
  • Approve an infrastructure to incorporate Indigenous education into the curriculum of any educator at HSU that desires it designed by the Native American Campus Community and Programs. (Implement immediately)
  • Give administration and HSU students the ability to learn about the local Indigenous history. Introduce cultural sensitivity and education during the Humboldt Orientation Program process among other employee training processes. (Implement by Fall 2015)
  1. Support Higher Education for Students of Color and Fight Educational Segregation on Campus.
  • Dissolve RISS or transform it to embrace our educational excellence. The color segregation programs, RISS, is a cultural based system rather than educational based. Students of Color do not want to be “retained” we want tools and mentors to aide us achieve higher education. (Implement immediately)
  • Hold the current Director of RISS, accountable for the academic, emotional, and economic damage caused to our Peoples. ODI and RISS should be the strongest allies for People of Color. Instead RISS has contributed to massive degradation of programs designed to serve people of color. The Directors should be held accountable to their responsibilities for the populations they serve by the populations they serve. Positions of power are a privilege, students will have the ability to remove those who do not serve them successfully. (Implement immediately.)
  • Approve and secure a position for a Native American recruiter to outreach to Tribal Nations across the United States to increase the Native American student population. Aide in increasing the Native Population on campus. (Implement by April 2015)
  1. Honor past and present agreements made between HSU and the community. Subject administration to an accountability process if negotiations are not met.
  • Honor the commitments made to the community throughout the years. In particular, the 2004 strategic plan and WASC report. (Implement immediately)
  • Negotiations that are made between us must be honored. Participate in co-collaborating an infrastructure to retain self-accountability to uphold these agreements. (Implement upon completion of negotiations.)
  • Student and community action have been instrumental to the acknowledgement of the many issues of social justice on this campus. Agreements between HSU, students and community must be upheld. It should not require those affected by broken administrative promises to take residency in a classroom for 22 days and counting to make this clear. Release any kind of academic or legal ramifications for all those affiliated with the Unified Students Humboldt. (Implement immediately.)


A Giant Umbrella of “Decolonizing HSU.”

This is a vision.

Within the vision we have Demands (approximately 9)

Under these 9 demands are 26 points that support the demands that help to support the vision.

Each of these points have pages of condensed research and data that back up the demands and points.

This research includes the Vine Deloria Report, 2004 Strategic Plan, WASC report and other resources and reports.


Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation are people who want crops without ploughing the ground… The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.

Frederick Douglass

Media contact: Unified Students of Humboldt