Debra Haaland

Netroots Nation Keynote Address – Aug. 3, 2018

Debra Haaland
August 03, 2018— New Orleans, Louisiana
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Hello, Netroots Nation. [cheers] My name is Deb Haaland. I'm the Democratic nominee for New Mexico's first congressional district. I elected I will be the first Native American woman in Congress. [cheers] Thank you. Thank you. [cheers]

I'm a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna and a thirty-fifth generation New Mexican. I'm a single mom to my beautiful queer daughter, a water protector, and I'm proud to be here. [cheers]

I recognize that we are on indigenous land and I approach you with respect for the tribes whose homeland we stand on now, including the Chitimacha and Houma tribes. [applause]

As a single mom, struggle made me fierce. Alongside my daughter, Somah, we sometimes survived on food stamps, making tough decisions between rent and utilities and living on credit cards with sky-high interest. If I could get back all the late fees and predatory interest rates I've paid over the years, I could probably buy a house. But really though, I'd probably just pay off our student loans.

As a child, my dad's 30-year military career took us to many places across the country, but every summer my siblings and I made it back to the Southwest to spend time with our grandparents. There, you could find me climbing the red mesa above my grandma's village or helping my grandfather in his cornfield. They didn't get running water or electricity until the mid 70s, and so at night all we had were stories.

My grandmother was taken from her family to a Catholic boarding school when she was only eight years old, where she wasn't allowed to speak her language, see her family or practice her culture. The dark history of Indian boarding schools still haunts our collective memory, and now family separation has reared its ugly head again.

The story of forced family separation is as old as America. It has roots in slavery and has come up again and again with new absurd rationale. It has always been wrong and it always will be. [applause] Yes.

In Congress, I'll fight every day to overturn the Muslim ban, end deportations, defund ICE to stop them from terrorizing families. [cheers]

Change has been slow for indigenous women and we're in the fight of our lives. Across the country there is an epidemic of violence against Native American women and we have a crisis of missing and murdered victims who have never been counted. Savanna Greywind, Jermain Charlo, Ashley Loring HeavyRunner. We must increase funding for tribal justice systems and track the data because we deserve to be counted and we deserve to live. [cheers}

Tribal communities are plagued by the highest crime victimization rates in our country. Over 80% of Native women will experience violence in their lifetime, 90% committed by non-Indians. Our native children are 50% more likely to experience child and sexual abuse than white children, and teen suicide rates are off the charts.

For decades these issues have been ignored. I want us all to shine a light on this crisis. I want us all to care about these issues. [applause]

Indigenous justice is racial justice is economic justice, and all of that is progressive. Our success is intertwined and we must be together on this. [applause]

Climate change is one of the most important issues of our time. Across New Mexico, we're facing historic droughts. Here in New Orleans, folks have and are facing historic storms and floods. Around the world, this extreme weather is only getting worse.

Chaco Canyon is a living place and not a relic of the past. It's sacred and must be protected. But just last week the Trump administration opened it up to more fracking. Imagine for a moment an oil or gas company setting up a drilling rig across from the Vatican. That's exactly what this administration is doing to our sacred land, while essentially defunding the EPA and increasing the vulnerability of our endangered animals.

It's time to stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure in America. No more pipelines. [cheers and applause] It's time for a renewable energy revolution, a Green New Deal. In New Mexico, we have nearly 300 days of sun per year. We're ready to power America. Let's get to work toward 100% renewable energy. [cheers]

And also—look, we should legalize cannabis on the federal level, right? It's about time. In New Mexico, just like across our country, young people of color have been dragged off to prison by the thousands just for marijuana. Our private prisons are full of them. Native Americans have the lowest population in our country and the highest number of cases in federal courts, and that isn't an accident. When we legalize marijuana, we must release everyone in prison on marijuana charges [cheers and applause] and ensure that the people who have served their time don't languish in jail while others profit off of its legalization. [applause]

As we talk about bold, progressive missions for our future, we also know that we are in the midst of dark times. Children in cages, families torn apart, white supremacists marching in our streets and inflicting violence on our friends, family and neighbors. We're seeing an all-time high murder rate for trans women of color. We have a presidential cabinet full of billionaires. And when I see them cutting food stamps, assistance for pregnant and nursing moms, and meals to the elderly, I know they have never struggled a day in their life. [applause] And by the way, those Trump tariffs—they're hurting farmers in New Mexico.

But in the midst of so much heartache today, I also see hope. This year I see an incredible wave of activism and energy throughout my district, my state and the country. In Indian Country, where I've worked for the past 20 years, there's enthusiasm like never before.

Indians couldn't even vote in New Mexico until 1948, because 70 years ago today Isleta Pueblo member Miguel Trujillo and Marine Corps veteran had the courage to sue the state of New Mexico. And now our people are out and we're energized. [applause]

We're seeing a new wave of excitement for a bold progressive vision for our future, where people come before corporate profits, where we all have healthcare, where all people can not only survive but succeed. Big ideas like universal child care, food and housing as human rights, a ban on assault weapons, and a new era of investment for public schools are motivating our movement. From Albuquerque to New Orleans, from the Lummi Nation to the eastern Cherokee Nation, we have an unprecedented opportunity to make change.

They say in 2018, we'll bring a blue wave. I say just a blue wave isn't enough. Let's bring a wave that includes representation for all of us [applause]—indigenous people, trans people, working people, women, black and brown people, LGBTQ people, disabled folks, veterans and everyone who has been sidelined.

And yes, we must protect and expand Social Security. [applause]

Donald Trump has hijacked America to line his pockets, but in 2018 progressives can and will put us on a new path. It's time to build an unbreakable coalition of people and progressive ideas that will change the face of America to a model of equity, democracy, and justice.

Are you ready? [cheers and applause]