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What They Are Saying: President Trump and Secretary Zinke’s Nomination of Tara Sweeney 

October 18, 2017

Alaska Daily News: "The White House announced the pick Monday. The reaction on Tuesday bordered on ecstatic"

 

Alaska Dispatch News Alaska Native leaders say Tara Sweeney is well suited for Trump’s top Indian affairs job.  “Sweeney is tough and smart with the political savvy and instincts to negotiate bureaucracy, said Gloria O'Neill, who has long worked with Sweeney on boards and projects.”

 

KTUU-Alaska Steady praise for the Alaskan chosen by President Trump for top Indian Affairs job. “Alaskan politicians commented on the nomination following the news, which was announced late Monday afternoon. The nomination was met with near-universal approval from the Alaskan lawmakers.”

 

Alaska Public Media:  Applause sounds for Alaskan selected for Indian Affairs post at Interior. “Her nomination has Alaska’s U.S. senators literally cheering. Sen. Lisa Murkowski: ‘What a fabulous, fabulous nomination.’ Sen. Dan Sullivan: ‘Historic. Super-well qualified.’”

 

Indianz: National Congress of American Indians looks forward to Tara Sweeney confirmation. “The Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs is charged with the federal responsibility to protect tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, and the trust relationship,” NCAI President Brian Cladoosby said on Tuesday. “This nomination is an important step by the administration, and we look forward a swift confirmation by the United States Senate...We appreciate the administration’s commitment to efficiently staffing important positions within governmental departments directly affecting Indian Country, and we look forward to hearing from Ms. Sweeney about her goals and plans for working with tribal leaders to ensure the government-to-government relationship is upheld.”

 

ELECTED OFFICIALS

Senator Lisa Murkowski said Sweeney has her full support: “Tara has a very strong record of professionalism and accomplishment in Alaska, across the country, and internationally, especially with the indigenous people of the circumpolar north. She has significant experience on Arctic issues and chaired the Arctic Economic Council. She is an expert on energy, infrastructure, broadband, economic development, Native self-determination, and a wide range of policy issues that will come before her. Secretary Zinke could not have chosen a better leader to help him fulfill the federal government’s trust responsibility, and I know Tara has the heart and drive to excel in this position.”

 

Congressman Don Young said Sweeney was an outstanding choice: “Tara’s knowledge, experience and leadership will go a long way in straightening out the BIA, allowing it to run more efficiently for the good of all First Americans. She has extensive experience not only in business, but also within Alaska Native groups and organizations. Tara knows first-hand the fight for Native empowerment and self-determination because she’s been on the front lines for years. There’s long been a problem with Native issues not receiving the priority they deserve but with Tara Sweeney at the helm, I have no doubt the Department of Interior will be paying close attention and the voices of our Native communities will be heard. Tara follows in great Alaskan footsteps, those of my dear friend Morris Thompson, and will do a fantastic job working on behalf of American Indians and Alaska Natives across the country.”

 

Sen. Dan Sullivan said it was a historic appointment for Alaskans: “I’ve worked with Tara Sweeney for years and I have witnessed first-hand her integrity, her strong leadership skills and her devotion to public service. Tara has a deep love for our state and people, and is relentless in her commitment to securing a better future for Alaska and the nation. With her long history of advocating for Alaska Native cultural values, rights, and economic opportunity, I can’t think of anyone better to have as our nation’s next Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs.”

 

Governor Bill Walker praises the nomination of Tara Sweeney: "Tara's selection for this position is cause for celebration in Alaska. In each of my conversations with Secretary Zinke, I have encouraged him to include Alaskans for significant roles in his department. Tara's leadership in seeking self-determination and economic development for the people of the Arctic has been exemplary. As an Inupiaq tribal and corporate leader, she has sought the necessary balance between economic development and sustaining the ways of life and cultures of Alaska's First People. While many will be sad to see her leave ASRC, Tara's expertise will serve our state and nation well in this new role."

 

NATIVE LEADERS

Jackie Johnson Pata with the National Congress of American Indians: "I commend the Secretary for his choice of Tara Sweeney for the Position of Assistant Secretary. Tara's diverse experience in the areas of energy, natural resources, and tribal governance will be a welcome addition to the Department of Interior and NCAI looks forward to working with Tara in her new capacity."

 

John Berrey, Chairman of the Quapaw Tribe in Oklahoma. “Since March when he was sworn in, Secretary Zinke has been assembling a top-notch team of professionals to help him lead the Interior Department. With Tara Sweeney’s nomination, the Secretary is showing he means business when it comes to reforming the BIA and improving the delivery of services to Indian people. Tara’s long and dedicated service to the Alaska Federation of Natives, the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and, most recently, the Arctic Economic Council, will be what is needed in the BIA’s top official. I thank the secretary for this nomination and pledge to help Tara achieve success for Native people any way I can.”

 

Leonard Smith, Executive Director of the Native American Development Corporation: “Ms. Sweeney’s background consists of the right elements to assist our economic development efforts with the tribes we serve in Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota towards economic sustainability. Her experience in energy, capital, government contracting and economic development give her the depth of knowledge to develop legislative solutions to federal policies that hinder economic development with tribal nations. We feel confident she will be able to promote stronger federal support through collaboration with other federal, state and private resources for implementation of the infrastructure necessary for economic growth and sustainability.”

 

Julie Kitka, President of the Alaska Federation of Natives: “In these critical times, Ms. Tara Sweeney will serve as a strong Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs. Her experience with empowering Native Americans is unparalleled and she will help all tribes achieve great self-determination. There is not a Tribe or Alaska Native corporation that she would not help. I have had the opportunity to work alongside Ms. Sweeney for over a decade, I’ve seen her in action and she is driven by results.”

 

David Solomon, a Gwich’in activist from Fort Yukon: “'Oh it’s awesome! It’s good to see our Native leader be in the front line now. We’ve been recognized.' Solomon was in Washington, D.C. to rally opposition in the Senate to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. ASRC owns subsurface rights in the refuge and Sweeney has been a lead advocate in favor of drilling there. But Solomon takes a broader view and says Sweeney’s selection is “good for Alaska Natives.”

 

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