Native woman fills key White House post
After a more than eight-year absence, there's finally a Native person in the White House.

Jodi Archambault Gillette, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, was named to a top post by President Barack Obama. She will be serving as a deputy associate director in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

In choosing Gillette, Obama cited a need for a diverse administration. He wants to ensure American Indians and Alaska Natives have a voice at the White House.

"As we work to serve the American people and make this White House as open and transparent as possible, it's essential that we hear from citizens in all our communities," Obama said on Friday.

Gillette's selection marks the first time a Native person has served in a top White House position since the Clinton era. Former president George W. Bush filled the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, which deals with tribes, states and local governments, with non-Natives.

The appointment isn't the only one that will benefit Indian Country either. Still open is a separate White House post that Obama promised to create to fulfill his vision of a "nation-to-nation relationship" between tribes and the United States.

Gillette helped get out the Native vote for Obama's historic campaign. Her background is in tribal government, public policy and community development, having served as director of the non-profit Native American Training Institute in North Dakota.

"She is committed to her tribe and people, in maintaining cultural life ways and beliefs of her ancestors," the White House said on Friday.

Tribes and Alaska Natives will turn to Gillette in their dealings with the government. The Office of Intergovernmental Affairs serves as a liaison between the White House and numerous federal agencies and helps coordinate activities throughout the executive branch.

Gillette has hit the ground running in her new post. She's scheduled to appear before the United South and Eastern Tribes this morning, along with Keith Harper, a prominent attorney and Cherokee Nation member who is on Obama's transition team.

Obama tapped a record seven Native people for the transition, an effort that has put another Native woman in Washington. Stacy Ecoffey, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, is the principal adviser for tribal affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Other Native people are expected to fill posts throughout the administration. Obama will be nominating leaders for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians, the National Indian Gaming Commission, the Indian Health Service, the Administration for Native Americans and the Office of Indian Education at the Department of Education.

White House Announcement:
President Obama Announces More Key White House Staff (February 6, 2009)

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