Honoring Native American Policymakers Committed to Conservation

As Native American Heritage Month comes to a close, we highlight the contributions of leaders who have made a difference for birds.
Representative Mary Peltola. Photo: Courtesy of Mary Peltola

November is Native American Heritage Month, an opportunity to honor the rich history, culture, and lasting impact of Indigenous peoples throughout North America – and their contributions to the stewardship of our environment. This Native American Heritage Month, we honor Representative Mary Peltola, Representative Sharice Davids, and Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland for their leadership and dedication to conservation. 

Representative Mary Peltola is a Yup’ik Alaska Native, the first Alaska Native ever elected to Congress, and is Alaska’s sole representative. She is one of the leading cosponsors of the Migratory Birds of the Americas Conservation Enhancements Act, which would protect more than 350 species of birds wherever they fly, including the Blackpoll Warbler

Her leadership and commitment to conservation extends far beyond the borders of Alaska, advocating for and supporting partnerships with communities across the Western Hemisphere to protect birds and the places they need. 

Representative Sharice Davids, representing Kansas’ 3rd congressional district, is a member of the Ho-Chunk tribe and the first openly LGBTQ Native American representative in Congressional history. She is a co-sponsor of the Arctic Refuge Protection Act and the Roadless Area Conservation Act of 2023. Her leadership has been critical for protecting and preserving the Arctic for Indigenous communities, the American people, and birds like the Northern Pintail

Representative Davids is also a champion for climate solutions and wildlife conservation, supporting renewable energy and the Recovering America's Wildlife Act, which would provide states and tribes much-needed funding to protect wildlife habitat.

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland made history in 2021 when she became the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary. She is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna.

Secretary Haaland’s leadership and engagement was critical in the designation of Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprint of the Grand Canyon National Monument in Arizona. The monument conserves nearly 1 million acres of the greater Grand Canyon landscape sacred to Tribal Nations and Indigenous peoples. The Golden Eagle, California Condor, and numerous other bird species rely on the Grand Canyon region for their migratory routes. This monument designation provides these majestic birds the habitat they need to survive.

As we prepare for the second year of the 118th Congress, the National Audubon Society looks forward to continuing to work with Representative Davids, Representative Petola, and Secretary Haaland. They are champions of conversation, and we are so fortunate that they are working to protect birds, people and the places we all need, today and tomorrow.