Congresswoman Haaland grew up in a military family; her father was a 30-year combat Marine who was awarded the Silver Star Medal for saving six lives during Vietnam, and her mother is a Navy veteran who was a federal employee for 25 years in Indian education. She knows the sacrifices made by military families because her family moved throughout the country during her father’s military service; as a result, she attended 13 different public schools.
As a single mother, she volunteered at her daughter's pre-school in order to afford an early childhood education. Like many New Mexicans, she had to rely on food stamps at times as a single parent, has lived paycheck-to-paycheck, and struggled to put herself through college. Though hard work and determination, she earned degrees from the University of New Mexico and UNM Law School. Congresswoman Haaland and her daughter, who recently graduated from the University of New Mexico, are still paying off student loans.
For several years, she ran her own small business producing and canning Pueblo Salsa and later became the first Chairwoman elected to the Laguna Development Corporation Board of Directors, overseeing business operations of the second largest tribal gaming enterprise in New Mexico. Deb successfully advocated for the Laguna Development Corporation to create policies and commitments to earth-friendly business practices. Deb is a former tribal administrator and has administered a local service provider for adults with developmental disabilities.
She is a 35th generation New Mexican who is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna, and also has Jemez Pueblo heritage. After running for New Mexico Lieutenant Governor in 2014, Haaland became the first Native American woman to be elected to lead a State Party. She used her experience reaching out to communities who are often forgotten during the electoral process during the two Obama presidential campaigns. During her time as State Party Chair, she traveled to Standing Rock to stand side-by-side with the community to protect tribal sovereignty and advocate vital natural resources.
Starting in 2016, Haaland has served as an Honorary Commander of Kirtland Air Force Base which gives her a better understanding of its missions and effects on New Mexico’s economy.
After a lifetime of organizing communities to stand up for New Mexico families, Congresswoman Deb Haaland was elected as one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress. She will serve in leadership roles as the 116th Congress Freshman Class Representative to the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, House Democratic Region VI Whip (Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona) and Deputy Whip for the Congressional Progressive Caucus.