Alaskan Tara Sweeney Confirmed as Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at DOI
By MARY KAUFFMAN
June 29, 2018
On October 17, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Sweeney to be one of five assistant secretaries at the Department of the Interior, reporting to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary. The Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs will support the Secretary of the Interior in fulfilling the United States’ trust responsibility to the federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and villages and individual Indian trust beneficiaries, as well as in upholding the Federal-Tribal government-to-government relationship.
Sweeney said in a prepared statement, “I am honored to be confirmed to serve Indian Country in this capacity.” She said, “My goal is to develop strong relationships with Tribes, Alaska Native corporations, and Native Hawaiian Organizations to work on innovative solutions for lifting up our communities. I am motivated to work with Indian Country to find efficiencies inside the Bureau of Indian Affairs, improve service delivery and culturally relevant curriculum in the Bureau of Indian Education, and create a more effective voice for Tribes throughout the Federal Government.
Sweeney thanked Senators Murkowski and Sullivan, Congressman Young, AFN, and NCAI for their unwavering support. "I am also thankful for the bipartisan support for my nomination. I am humbled by the confidence President Trump and Secretary Zinke have shown in me and I am ready to serve,” said Sweeney.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and the Alaska Congressional Delegation issued the following statements today after the U.S. Senate confirmed Alaskan Tara Sweeney to be the next U.S. Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior.
“Congratulations to Tara on her confirmation. She is a results-driven team leader and coalition builder who has an impressive combination of business acumen and service to her community,” said Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.
Zinke said, “Her lifelong active engagement in Native American policy development and her outreach, advocacy, and organization skills are the combination we need to carry out the President’s reform initiative for Indian Country. I look forward to welcoming her to the Department."
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) stated, "I believe that if anyone is up to this hard and difficult task that it is Tara Sweeney.”
Murkowski said, “She has the determination and tenacity to take on this challenge and achieve remarkable things in her position. She truly has a heart for all Native people. As a proud Inupiaq, she has lived first-hand the challenges that many in Indian Country face. Her talents as a manager will serve her well in the position of Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, and she will do everything in her power to bring the agencies under her back on course. I’m proud to see her confirmed, and now it is time for her to start kicking down doors and get to work.”
U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) stated, “I thank my colleagues for voting for the historic confirmation of Tara Sweeney to become our next Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, an extremely important position not only for Alaska but the nation.”
Sullivan said, “Tara has a long history of relentlessly advocating for Alaska Native cultural values, rights, and economic opportunity. She will bring this focus and determination to all Indigenous people throughout the country. I am absolutely certain that there is no one who will work harder for the rights, for the economic empowerment, and for the culture of America’s First Peoples than Tara Sweeney. It’s a great day for Alaska and a great day for our country.”
Congressman Don Young (R-AK) in the joint prepared statement said, “Tara is a natural leader and has been an influential voice for American Indians and Alaska Natives.”
Young said, “Throughout her years of dedicated service to Alaska Native communities, she has championed the economic and social well-being of our First Peoples and the spirit of tribal self-determination. Her career has been marked by many notable successes and I’m very proud that she has been entrusted to positively shape the future of BIA."
Young said, " I’m confident that in her new role, she will bring her years of experience and her vision to empower our Native communities. As the first Alaska Native to hold this position, she is an exceptional representation of the Last Frontier. Congratulations on this well-deserved confirmation, Tara.”
Tara Mac Lean Sweeney has been a prominent Alaska Native leader and acclaimed businesswoman with the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. Sweeney is a member of the Native Village of Barrow and the Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, and she is the first Native Alaskan and only the second woman in history to hold the position.Sweeney grew up in rural Alaska and has spent a lifetime actively engaged in state and national policy arenas focused on advocating for responsible Indian energy policy, rural broadband connectivity, Arctic growth and Native American self-determination. She has served her Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and its subsidiaries in a variety of capacities for nearly two decades. The $2.6 billion corporation is the largest locally-owned and operated business in Alaska, with about 13,000 Iñupiat Eskimo members and 12,000 employees worldwide. It is diversified in six major business sectors, including energy support services, industrial services, construction, petroleum refining and marketing, government services, and resource development.
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