WASHINGTON — On Thursday, President Joe Biden nominated Principal Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Indian Affairs at the U.S. Dept. of the Interior Bryan Newland to become the as Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior. Newland was nominated to principal deputy assistant to the Secretary of Indian Affairs on Feb. 22, 2021. 

Prior to his February appointment, Newland served as chairman of the Bay Mills Indian Community, located in Brimley, Michigan.

Newland’s nomination on Thursday was greeted with enthusiasm in Indian Country.

“Today, on Earth Day, I’m heartened by President Biden’s nomination of Bryan Newland for Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs. As the former chairman of the Bay Mills Indian Community and a former employee of Interior, his record and experience in Indian Country are well-known and respected,” National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) President Fawn Sharp said.

“Indian Country is poised for investment and new opportunities for economic growth and the time is right for new leadership. We are ready to engage in initiatives that create a sustainable, inclusive, and strategic agenda for Indian Country. With Bryan Newland as Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, along with the first Native American Secretary of Interior, we will have that critical voice for our traditional cultures, our tribal economies, and the healing of our broken relationship with the federal government,” Sharp continued.

Bay Mills Indian Community Chairwoman Whitney Gravelle, who recently won a special election to replace Newland, told Native News Online she thinks his appointment is wonderful news for Indian Country.

“I told Bryan at his virtual going away party, he will take his nurturing spirit to Indian Country,” Gravelle said. “A great leader is just not someone who makes great decisions, but believes the in the potential of others, and nurtures their abilities and helps them reach their own goals. Great leaders nurture other leaders and when Bryan was with us he nurtured all of us at Bay Mills. So, I have no doubt in his new role, he will nurture all of Indian Country.”

Chairperson Aaron Payment from neighboring the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula praised the Newland’s nomination, as well. 

“I have known Bryan for decades. His mother Vicki is a strong Native leader in her own right. I have long envisioned the leadership in this young Ogitch’da (warrior), academic, attorney, judge and most recently Ogema (Chairman of his Nation). Today, he makes the Bay Mills Indian Community, and all of the Anishinaabe proud and will serve all Nations in a respectful manner,” Payment, who also serves as first vice president of NCAI, said to Native News Online.

In addition, Newland's nomination received from the Arizona tribal nations.

"The 21 Member Tribes of the Inter Tribal Association of Arizona (ITAA) wholeheartedly support the nomination of Bryan Newland to serve as Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs,” says Vice Chairman Shan Lewis, Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, President, Inter Tribal Association of Arizona.

“As a former Tribal Leader, Mr. Newland has the unique experience and perspective that will serve well toward the furtherance of Tribal self-governance, upholding of the federal trust responsibility and the protection of Tribal sovereignty on behalf of Indian Country.”

Before becoming chairman of Bay Mills, Newland served in the Obama administration as a Counselor and Policy Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of the Interior-Indian Affairs. In that capacity where he helped develop the policies on Indian gaming and Indian lands, reforming the Department of the Interior’s policy on reviewing tribal-state gaming compacts. He also led a team that improved the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Indian leasing regulations and worked with key officials to help enact the HEARTH Act of 2012.

Prior to his federal service, Newland worked as an attorney with Fletcher Law in Lansing, Michigan. He represented tribal clients on issues including the regulation of gaming facilities, negotiation of tribal-state gaming compacts, the fee-to-trust process, and leasing of Indian lands. He graduated magna cum laude from Michigan State University College of Law and received his undergraduate degree from James Madison College at Michigan State University.

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Levi Rickert
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Levi "Calm Before the Storm" Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected].