Alaska Delegation Strongly Supports Tara Sweeney

Senate Indian Affairs Committee Holds Hearing for Alaskan Nominee

U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan (both R-AK) today advocated for the swift confirmation of Tara Sweeney of Alaska to be Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior. During Tara Sweeney’s nomination hearing in the Indian Affairs Committee, of which Senator Murkowski is a member, the Alaska senators offered their congratulations and full support for her nomination. Once confirmed, Sweeney, the former co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives and Chairman of the Arctic Economic Council, will be the first Alaskan Native to serve in the position.

 “Tara brings a unique set of skills to this position, drawing from her background and upbringing. I have personally seen Tara advocate for Alaska Native rights, cultural values, and sustainable rural economics. She is an Inupiaq tribal leader and a business leader and brings so much hope and promise, not only for the people of her region, but for Alaska Natives around the state and for Indian Country as a whole,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “Tara is more than qualified for this position and is going to be the person to challenge the status quo for everyone in Indian Country. This nomination is an important step by the administration and I look forward to working with my colleagues to make history by confirming the first Alaska Native to this position.”

Senator Murkowski Indian Affairs Screengrab

(Click here to watch Senator Murkowski’s opening statement)

“During her time leading AFN, Tara spearheaded reforms to empower Tribes. She also focused on access to capital, self-determination, technology deployment, and very critically, economic growth and good jobs in rural Alaska Native communities,” said Senator Sullivan. “These are some of the critical issues that she focused on in her many other leadership positions at organizations such as the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, the National Congress of American Indians, and as Chair of the Arctic Economic Council. This is the experience and focus she will bring to all Indigenous people throughout our 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.”

Senator Sullivan Indian Affairs Hearing

(Click here to watch Senator Sullivan’s remarks)

 “I am both a product and a witness to the work of Native leaders to address the challenges that each of our communities face –including social services to protect our most vulnerable, the perpetuation of our languages and cultural practices, investments in education, housing and other infrastructure, and capacity building to develop economic opportunities at home and across the country,” said Tara Sweeney. “As Alaska Natives, like our American Indian counterparts, we are reaching for the same future, with very similar tools– tribal governments to govern our respective social needs and traditional and cultural ways, and tribal corporations, to engage in the economic opportunities of our great country…I am honored to leave my homeland for a short time to engage in public service, but perhaps most important, to support tribal nations, tribal corporations, and our tribal people all across the country.”

Tara Sweeney Indian Affairs Hearing Screengrab

 (Click here to watch Tara Sweeney’s opening statement.)

 The next step in the nomination process will be a vote in the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, to be scheduled.

 Background: On October 17, 2017, President Trump nominated Tara Sweeney to be the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, one of five assistant secretaries at the Department of the Interior, reporting to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary. The Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs supports the Secretary in fulfilling the United States’ trust responsibility to 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.



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