Deb Haaland made sure she was making history in style.
From head to toe, Biden’s new interior secretary dressed in pieces that honored her Native American heritage when she was sworn in on Thursday: a sky-blue ribbon skirt adorned with embroidered images of butterflies, stars and corn along with moccasin boots, dragonfly earrings and a turquoise bead necklace.
Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, is the first Native American cabinet secretary in US history. As interior secretary, Haaland is charged with overseeing the department that manages the country’s national parks, wildlife refuges and natural resources like gas, oil and water. The interior department also works to uphold the US government’s treaty obligations with Native American tribes, of which there are 574 sovereign tribal nations in the US.
In a post on Instagram, Reecreeations, the Indigenous company that designed Haaland’s ribbon skirt, said Haaland style choices sent an empowering message to Indigenous women.
“The ribbon skirt reminds us of the matriarchal power we carry as Indigenous women. They carry stories of survival, resilience, adaption and sacredness,” read the post. “Wearing it in this day and age is an act of self-empowerment and reclamation of who we are and that gives us the opportunity to proudly make bold statements in front of others who sometimes refuse to see us.”
Pat Pruitt, the Laguna Pueblo metalsmith behind Haaland’s dragonfly earrings, told Vogue that she is proud Haaland wore her piece during her swearing-in ceremony.
“Madam Secretary Haaland holds something special, something only a woman can hold, something that carries us all along with her. The world is her stage and she has our [Indigenous peoples] undying support.”
Thursday was not the first time Haaland paid tribute to her heritage and Indigenous designers. At Joe Biden’s inauguration in January, she wore a yellow ribbon skirt with an embroidered rainbow design that was gifted by a 19-year-old designer, Bella Aiukli Cornell of Aiukli Designs.
At her swearing-in ceremony, Haaland was joined by her family, including daughter Somah Haaland, who held the Bible Haaland took the oath on.
Kamala Harris administered the oath, remarking at the end of the ceremony: “History is being made yet again.”