Haaland, Grijalva Host Mock Hearing for Native American High Schoolers from New Mexico

June 24, 2019
Press Release
Mock Hearing Part of Santa Fe Indian School Leadership Institute curriculum at Princeton University


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Natural Resources Committee Vice Chair Deb Haaland (N.M.-1) and Chair Raul Grijalva (Ariz.-3) hosted New Mexico high schoolers for a mock hearing for the first time in the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources Committee room. The mock hearing was part of the Santa Fe Indian School Leadership Institute curriculum at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Prior to conducting the hearing, students attended the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs to do research and learn from experts. After their research they landed in Washington, D.C. and presented their policy recommendations to Representatives Haaland and Grijalva and congressional staff. At the mock hearing, the members of Congress asked the students questions covering climate change, sacred sites, education, and community planning.

“The Santa Fe Indian School Leadership Institute offers an extraordinary experience to Native students from New Mexico by exposing them to the world of public policy, dorm life, and travel through the halls of Congress,” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland, Vice Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee. “The institute is about professional development and while I’m in Congress, I’m doing everything I can to leave the ladder down so that the next generation of leaders are ready to take the helm and move our country forward.”      

“The country would be in better shape if these students were running things,” Grijalva said after the event. “As Chair, it’s important to me that Congress understands and upholds federal government trust responsibilities to tribal nations. It was exciting today to witness the next generation of Native leaders clearly and powerfully present their concerns about the future to members of the Committee. They clearly had done their homework, they did their communities proud, and I hope they all continue their advocacy for justice in Indian Country.”

“Today the Natural Resources Committee provided an unprecedented and historic opportunity for young people to articulate their concerns before members of the committee,” Regis Pecos, a former Governor of Cochiti Pueblo and Co-Director of the Leadership Institute, sponsor of the Summer Policy Academy stated. “It is our desire to create an opportunity for these fellows to have an epiphany to realize the necessity of indigenous knowledge to be balanced with western education to protect their lands, their way life and their languages and define what future generations will inherit from us. This opportunity created by Congresswoman Deb Haaland today is an example of what it means to create access and provide an opportunity for Congress to hear the voices of young people often silenced and make visible those often marginalized.”

Each summer, the Santa Fe Indian School Leadership Institute heads to Princeton for an immersive academic and leadership experience full discussions, case studies and presentations by Native leaders. This year, the Native American students had the opportunity to learn from and discuss issues with Haaland, one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress and Grijalva the Chair of the full House Natural Resources Committee which has jurisdiction over Indian and Alaska Native issues in the House of Representatives.