Deb Haaland Chose Indigenous Design for Her Historic Swearing-In Ceremony


Earlier this week, Representative Deb Haaland, a Democratic who has represented New Mexico, was confirmed as President Joe Biden’s new Secretary of the Interior. It was a historic confirmation, as Haaland is now the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency. Today, Haaland attended her swearing-in ceremony at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building Ceremonial Office in Washington, D.C., kicking off her first day in office—and she wore a meaningful look that was appropriate for the special event.

Haaland wore a traditional ribbon skirt by Reecreeations, a colorful garment that is worn by many Indigenous tribes, and typically reserved for special occasions (or, often, by powwow dancers). Hers was embellished with an array of colorful ribbons, and embellished with imagery of corn and butterflies (typically, the colors or imagery on a ribbon skirt has special meaning to the wearer.) It’s not the first time Haaland has rocked a ribbon skirt in the political space: For Inauguration Day at the Capitol in January, Haaland also wore a yellow one by Aiukli Designs. 

Photo: Getty Images

Haaland’s accessories today also celebrated Indigenous design. On her feet, she wore mukluk-style boots, and she also sported a turquoise necklace and belt. Turquoise is used by many Indigenous artists in New Mexico, due to its abundance in the area. Her dragonfly earrings, meanwhile, are by Laguna Pueblo metalsmith Pat Pruitt, who carves out intricate designs from materials such as zirconium, titanium, and stainless steel. “To say I am proud of her would be the understatement of the year,” says Pruitt. “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.” Harris, who herself made history in politics as the first female VP and swore Haaland in today, certainly agrees with Pruitt’s sentiment: at the end of the ceremony, she said, “history is being made yet again.”

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