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Wednesday Ryan Zinke was confirmed to serve as the 52nd Secretary of the Interior with a Senate vote of 68-31. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) congratulated and welcomed Secretary Zinke to his new role as trustee to 567 Tribal Nations.
As a key partner in advancing the trust relationship between the United States and tribal nations, the Secretary of the Interior is a critical component in carrying forward this trust and fulfilling the promise of a new era in U.S. tribal relations. NCAI sent letters of support for Zinke’s nomination both to President Trump and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last month.
In his Senate Confirmation Hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Secretary Zinke outlined a three pronged approach to administering tribal priorities at the Department of the Interior: promoting tribal sovereignty, respecting tribal nations, and empowering self-determination. NCAI is encouraged by Secretary Zinke’s approach to the BIA as well as his commitment to giving tribal nations a seat at the table across the Federal Government.
Secretary Zinke’s experience as the At-Large Representative for the State of Montana, representing seven federally recognized tribes gives him a great deal of understanding of the Federal Government’s trust responsibility to tribes. As Congressman, Zinke fought for tribal water settlements and for federal recognition of one of Montana’s State Recognized Tribes.
“Ryan Zinke has a long history of fighting for our country. During his career as a Navy SEAL, he fought for American freedoms abroad. Throughout his service as a Congressman for Montana, he fought for Montanans and Montana’s Tribes in the halls of Congress,” said NCAI President Brian Cladoosby. “We have no doubt that Secretary Zinke will continue fighting for all tribes as Secretary of Interior. As the trustee to all 567 Federally Recognized tribes, we wish Secretary Zinke every success in advancing the Federal Government’s treaty and trust obligations.”
NCAI looks forward to working with Interior Secretary Zinke in addressing the broad range of issues affecting Native communities today, advancing jobs and economic development while conserving and managing the natural resources, lands, and communities of North America.