You can criticize Secretary Haaland & still be ‘woke’ and if you care about wildlife you need to
Updated: Sep 23
By Staci-lee Sherwood
Bad policy is bad policy regardless of skin color.
The fact that during her Senate confirmation hearing it was brought out, even hailed, that she was native American is a sign that this country is far from enlightened. The subtle hints given to the public was that to move the country forward to be thought of as progressive is akin to confirming her. In reality one had nothing to do with one another. Once the media got a hold of the catch phrase ‘first native American’ they swallowed their talking points given to them by those with a singular mission. Those who pushed hard to insure she would be at the helm of the department that would decide the fate of their industry include hunting, ranching and mining.
How ever the public wishes to think of themselves and regardless of what is reported in the media we are still and probably always will be a pretty sexist and racist country. If we weren’t then race, ethnicity and gender would never be mentioned when discussing someone’s qualifications, work experience or political views. Yet look closely and it always is. We have headlines that shout the first black president the first female presidential candidate the first native American senator. We point to these as a beacon of enlightenment. Certainly we Americans can’t be prejudice if we elect or hire these ‘minorities’ to the highest level in the land.
We never have headlines that read the most balanced candidate the most qualified governor or the fairest cabinet appointee with the most integrity. Instead the media feeds the public with the most emotionally triggering often salacious headline. This being a subtle reminder that one’s race and gender are indeed a huge factor and one’s qualifications not so much.
Throughout the hype surrounding the confirmation hearing for Haaland the public was constantly reminded that she would be the first native American to head the Department of Interior (DOI). Headlines about her rather short political career or ties to developers were few and far between. For stories that published content about how qualified she may or may not be or that questioned how her personal ties might play into her decision making process were mostly found in smaller papers or on personal blogs. These often had a smaller readership and were less influential to the masses. The larger media, which is predominantly corporate owned and therefore answers to a higher capitol power, preferred to run with the usual fanfare around her race.
For decades the DOI has been riddled with corruption and in particular the Bureau of Land management (BLM). An department that manages roughly 500 million acres of America’s public lands needs more than a figurehead. It needs a team of well qualified well vetted genuine conservationists with an understanding of and appreciation for preserving our public lands. This warrants serious consideration of anyone with ties to the ranching, hunting, mining and developer industries. For too long government agencies have allowed these commercial industries to encroach on our public lands. They quietly infiltrated the very agencies charged with protecting these lands from their exploitation; National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife and the Bureau of Land Management.
Read between the lines.
Alaska’s republican congressman Don Young testified on behalf of Haaland at her confirmation hearing. Saying “ I would suggest respectfully you’ll find out that she will listen to you.” Every environmentalist and animal rights activist should have taken note and heeded the warning. To understand what it means when someone like Young throws his support behind you can be summed up when I met him years ago in Washington DC. As I approached his office I saw a full length polar bear hanging on the wall behind the receptionist. That told me all I would ever need to know about Young and his priorities.
Sometimes the optics do tell the whole story. Perusing through Young’s voting record he is one of the most anti-environment anti-wildlife politicians ever to grace the halls of Congress. He’s been there for decades and has supported such insidious bills as HR 69 which was signed into law by then President Trump in 2017. This bill allowed for the legal killing of hibernating bears, bear cubs and denning wolves and wolf pups. So his support is very telling.
Land Tawney of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA) had a chance to get to know then candidate Haaland and see what it might be like to work with her in the future. “She offers a strong and knowledgeable vision for the Interior Department, a vision that is informed by her earliest experiences with her family on public lands and waters and on successful hunts in the West,” Tawney said in a BHA press release. “She is approachable, capable, and a bridge-builder.”
It gets worse.
While doing her two year term in congress Haaland was instrumental in getting the The Great American Outdoors Act passed. While touted as a win for conservation the bill, and Haaland’s confirmation, would open the door to some of the most horrific abuses of our public lands and wildlife. The bill was said to benefit rural communities. For city folk that might sound like helping the town build a school recreation program or open a kayak business. Go visit a rural community and you’ll find much of their economy, certainly a major staple, revolves around hunting, ranching, logging and mining and those secondary businesses that are part of the support system.
If Haaland was thought to be in favor of rescinding some of the more egregious exploits of the prior administration many who supported her were sadly mistaken. “I’m a Pueblo woman" Haaland has said. “We’ve been hunting on public lands for centuries. My dad and grandparents and brother, they all hunt. I myself was fortunate to harvest an oryx from the White Sands Missile Range, which fed my family for about a year. I respect the sportsman and the anglers.”
During the flurry of proceedings pictures of her in traditional dress, she’s a member of the Pueblo of Laguna, surfaced. Many pointed to these as a sign that she would offer good stewardship of the land. The idea that her being native American would usher in a better understanding of the vast ecosystems she would be in charge of. The media played up the notion that her ancestry equated to a healing of sorts for the damage done by past leaders who exploited the land and wildlife for their own political gain.
Her environmental supporting fan club must have been blinded by the vast propaganda machine put in place over the years as the media was slowly enveloped by a scat few corporations. They flooded the airways with these photos and catch phrases designed to squash anyone challenging her political views. The devilish deed was in her actions and words. The optics of her being the first native American and a woman in charge of this huge bureaucracy was all those with hidden agendas wanted the public to see. They were subtle in how they made the point that anyone who questioned her views or motives wasn’t ‘woke’ but rather a sexist or racist.
This was quite effective in silencing many of the needed voices who would have been better qualified to lead the DOI. These corporate giants and the industries who thrived because of them banked on the fear of good people not wanting to be cast in the ugly light of prejudice. Another hope was that with a Biden win and Haaland in charge of the Interior many of the oil and gas leases would be rescinded or paused in definitely. However Haaland has stated that Biden’s lease moratorium is only temporary and that the pause is not expected to impact the construction of new oil drills or oil exploration. “Fossil fuels will continue to play a major role in America for years to come. ” She testified at her hearing.*
Since starting her tenure she has :
· Expanding hunting in refuges
· Expanded hunting of wolves to the point they are on track for relisting on the Endangered Species List
· Expanded the brutal and torturous wild horse and burro roundups
· Allowed trophy hunting of bison in the Grand Canyon National Park and Mountain Goats in Grand Teton National park
One can only wonder what other surprises she has in store. One thing remains clear she is no wildlife advocate. It’s pretty clear she is far from being a good steward as her policies thus far are pushing many already imperiled species to the brink. If these policies continue unabated these and many other species might just go over the edge into the abyss of extinction. This will be the legacy of the first native American to lead the DOI. The lesson here will be that one’s dna or gender should not be the deciding factor but instead the person’s character, experience and most importantly words they say. To ignore these and focus on the flash will always lead you down the wrong path. So go ahead and criticize away there is plenty of bad policy to go around. If the concerns continue to be silenced with the threat of being called racist ignore it. Threats of any kind is the go to weapon of bullies who deep down know they have a weak argument and instead use your good nature against you. Don’t give in.
I always thought this would be a most accurate logo for the federal government