Alaska Native Leader Tara Mac Lean Sweeney Becomes First Female Native Alaskan Nominated for Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs

Tara Mac Lean Sweeney

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Published October 17, 2017

Sweeney would be the first Alaska Native to hold the position

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke applauded President Donald J. Trump’s nomination of Tara Mac Lean Sweeney, a prominent Alaska Native leader and acclaimed businesswoman with the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, to be the department’s next Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Sweeney, a member of the Native Village of Barrow and the Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, would be the first Native Alaskan and only the second woman in history to hold the position.

The Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs oversees Interior’s manifold responsibilities to enhance the quality of life, promote economic opportunity and provide quality educational opportunities for American Indians, Indian tribes and Alaska Natives, while protecting and improving their trust assets.

“Tara is a results-driven team leader and coalition builder who has an impressive combination of business acumen and service to her community,” Secretary 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 our leadership team.”

“I am honored to be nominated to serve Indian Country in this capacity,”Tara Sweeney 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. I am humbled by the confidence President Trump and Secretary Zinke have shown in me and ready to serve.”

“Secretary Zinke’s nomination of Tara Sweeny for Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs taps a strong advocate for Native American self-determination and tribal self-government for this key leadership position,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs John Tahsuda.  “Her extensive organizational knowledge and collaborative management experience will well serve Indian Country by reforming federal policies, empowering tribal communities, and removing barriers to their economic advancement.”

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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