Last night, the United States Senate unanimously approved the nomination of Tara Mac Lean Sweeney to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior ("Interior"). Ms. Sweeney will be the first Alaska Native and second woman to serve in this position.
Yesterday's vote happened a little over two weeks after Ms. Sweeney's nomination was moved out of the Senate Committee of Indian Affairs ("SCIA"), which Senators Hoeven, Murkowski, and Udall committed to work in expediting Ms. Sweeney's nomination for a full Senate vote.
Chairman Ernie Stevens Jr., welcomed Ms. Sweeney: "This position is long overdue to be filled and is one of the most important federal jobs serving Indian Country. Ms. Sweeney brings unique characteristics and perspectives as the first Alaskan Native to fill this important post for Indian Country. On behalf of the 184 Member Tribes of NIGA, we look forward to working with Ms. Sweeney to strengthen the Government's trust relationship with Tribal Nations."
During her May 9thnomination hearing in front of SCIA, Ms. Sweeney committed to using her first 180 days as Assistant Secretary to hold consultations with tribes across Indian Country to fulfill her duties more effectively. The Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs develops Interior policy on Indian affairs related issues and administers programs for Indian education, public safety, economic development, energy development, and federal recognition of tribes. Ms. Sweeney will oversee the agencies that carry out these functions, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education.
Sweeney is a member of the Native Village of Barrow, the Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, and is the Executive Vice President of External Affairs for the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. She has previously served as the Chair of the Arctic Economic Council in 2015 to 2017, the Co-Chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives in 2013, and has served on the Coast Guard Foundation Board of Trustees, the University of Alaska Foundation Board of Trustees, the FCC Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in a Digital Age, Analytical Services Inc., Kohanic Broadcast Corporation, and the Cherokee Nation New Market Tax Credit Advisory Board.
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