Senate unanimously confirms Tara Sweeney for Interior Department post

Published: Jun. 28, 2018 at 7:35 PM AKDT
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Alaskan Tara Sweeney was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be the next U.S. Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Thursday.

Sweeney was nominated for the role by President Trump in October, 2017. She is one of five assistant secretaries in the Interior Department, reporting to Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Earlier this month, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee unanimously recommended Sweeney's nomination move to a full vote of Senate.

With Thursday's senate confirmation, Sweeney is the first Alaska Native to lead the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the Department of the Interior. Her confirmation faced months of delays over questions of a possible conflict of interest. Sweeney is a birthright shareholder of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, but says she will recuse herself if matters involving the corporation come to her desk.

Alaska's congressional delegation congratulated Sweeney following the unanimous vote confirming her to the Department of Interior posting.

"As a proud Inupiaq, she has lived first-hand the challenges that many in Indian Country face," Sen. Lisa Murkowski said in a statement. "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 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," Sen. Dan Sullivan wrote Thursday.

Rep. Don Young said Sweeney is a natural leader, and the right person for the job.

"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," Young said.

Following her confirmation, Sweeney said she's ready to hit the ground running.

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