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New U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has family tie to New London, Minn.

The New London City Council has adopted a resolution of congratulations for U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, whose father was born in New London.

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An undated family photo of John David (J.D.) "Dutch" Haaland, back left; May Toya Haaland, center back, and their four children. Submitted / Haaland family photo
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NEW LONDON, Minn. — The New London City Council has adopted a resolution congratulating U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland on her confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

Haaland was sworn in Thursday, March 18, as the nation’s first Native American Cabinet secretary. Her father was born in New London.

The council adopted the resolution Wednesday, two days after the Senate confirmed Haaland’s nomination. She was elected in New Mexico to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018.

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Haaland


The resolution notes Haaland’s historic nomination and New London’s location on ancestral Dakota land.

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It concludes, “Be it resolved that‌ ‌the‌ ‌New‌ ‌London‌ ‌City‌ ‌Council‌ ‌congratulates‌ ‌Secretary‌ ‌Haaland‌ ‌on‌ ‌her‌ ‌confirmation‌ ‌and‌ ‌sends‌ ‌warm‌ ‌regards‌ ‌from‌ ‌the‌ ‌place‌ ‌where‌ ‌her‌ ‌father‌ ‌was‌ ‌born.‌‌”

Mayor John Bergman said Thursday that he had not been aware of the local connection until Councilor Erik Hatlestad brought it up at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

Hatlestad said he learned about Haaland’s father this week in a post on a New London history page on Facebook, “Love from New London: Sharing New London MN History, Stories & Memories.”

Erik Hatlestad
Erik Hatlestad

“It’s always cool to find a local connection with someone with such a historic presence as Secretary Haaland,” he said. “I thought the city of New London would want to celebrate since it is such a remarkable thing to have our first Native American secretary of the interior.”

Haaland’s father, John David (J.D.) "Dutch" Haaland , was of Norwegian American descent. He was born in 1936 in Kandiyohi County and grew up on a New London area farm until his parents, Conrad Haaland and Gunhild Jacobsen , moved the family west to follow the shipbuilding industry.

Major J.D. Haaland retired from the U.S. Marine Corps after serving 30 years. He served two years in Vietnam and was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Silver Star for “conspicuous gallantry,” according to his published obituary. He died in 2005 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Secretary‌ Haaland has referred to herself as a “military brat” who attended more than a dozen public schools as her family moved from base to base before settling in Albuquerque, N.M.

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Her mother, Mary Toya, a Native American woman, is a U.S. Navy veteran and a federal employee of the Bureau of Indian Affairs for 25 years.

Haaland is a member of the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico and a 35th-generation New Mexican.

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
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