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Deb Haaland
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland takes part in commencement ceremonies at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas, on May 13, 2022. Photo: U.S. Department of the Interior
Secretary Haaland returns to work after suffering injury
Monday, July 18, 2022

Secretary Deb Haaland is returning to work after suffering an injury near the nation’s capital, the Department of the Interior said in a statement.

“Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland was injured during a hike in Shenandoah National Park yesterday,” the statement issued before Noon Eastern on Monday read. “An evaluation this morning confirmed a break to her left fibula.”

Shenandoah National Park is part of the National Park Service, which Haaland oversees as the first Native person to lead Interior. The facility is located along the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, about 75 miles from Washington, D.C.

According to the statement, Haaland received treatment for the broken fibula in her left leg at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in D.C. The injury is not impacting her work as the first Native person to serve in a presidential Cabinet, her department said.

“She is grateful to Park staff, the U.S. Park Police, and the team at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for their excellent care,” the statement read. “The Secretary will resume her schedule virtually this afternoon.”

As part of President Joe Biden’s team, Haaland co-chairs the White House Council on Native American Affairs. A previously scheduled engagement with tribal leaders takes place on Monday afternoon.

Dear Tribal Leader Letter – White House Council on Native American Affairs whcnaa071122

A Dear Tribal Leader Letter dated July 11 said Haaland was going to convene the meeting, which is taking place virtually from 2pm-3:30pm Eastern. The focus is on the Biden administration’s tribal homelands initiatives.

“The Tribal leader engagement session will focus on the Nov. 15, 2021, Joint Secretarial Order 3403 between USDA and DOI on Fulfilling the Trust Responsibility to Indian Tribes in the Stewardship of Federal Lands and Waters, the 2021 Tribal Treaty Rights MOU, the 2021 Sacred Sites MOU, and other land-related initiatives such as the fee to trust regulations at 25 C.F.R. Part 151, Tribal relocation efforts, and Indigenous Knowledge,” the letter states.

Secretary Tom Vilsack of the Department of Agriculture is due to participate in the meeting as well, according to the letter. He signed a joint order with Haaland affecting federal lands and waters and the federal trust relationship, a memorandum of understanding addressing tribal treaty rights and another memo aimed at protecting sacred sites.

More information about the White House Council on Native American Affairs session can be found on

Separate from the engagement with tribal leaders, Haaland on Monday celebrated the groundbreaking of an infrastructure project along the the George Washington Memorial Parkway, a heavily-trafficked roadway system in and around the nation’s capital. She was not on the ground, however, for the ceremony, which took place on Monday morning.

According to Interior, Director Chuck Sams of the National Park Service took part in the ceremonial groundbreaking. He is the first Native person to lead the agency.

“George Washington Memorial Parkway is much more than a parkway—it connects millions of visitors with places to learn, play and relax just outside our nation’s capital,” Sams said in a news release on Monday. “Through funding from the Great American Outdoors Act, the National Park Service is not only improving infrastructure, but also expanding opportunities for visitors to enjoy their public lands.”  

The $161 million project is funded by the Great American Outdoors Act. The money will be used to rehabilitate the northern section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, which runs through a portion of Virginia just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.