EchoHawk approves DC office reorganization
Assistant Secretary Larry EchoHawk, the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, has approved a reorganization of his office in Washington, D.C.

EchoHawk added a chief of staff position, currently filled by Paul Tsosie, a member of the Navajo Nation. Tsosie will consolidate legislative planning, congressional relations; public affairs and legal and other matters for the Assistant Secretary.

More specifically, Tsosie will oversee the Office of Counsel and divide the Office of External Affairs into the Office of Public Affairs and the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs. Previously, these functions reported to the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs.

EchoHawk confirmed that George Skibine, a member of the Osage Nation of Oklahoma, is his Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs. There had been some confusion as to whether Skibine or Del Laverdure, a member of the Crow Tribe of Montana, had been serving as principal deputy.

Skibine will handle gaming, self-governance and federal recognition for the Assistant Secretary. He will add a new Office of Regulatory Affairs and Collaborative Action to oversee new and revised federal regulations.

But for now, Skibine is headed to the National Indian Gaming Commission, where he will serve as acting chairman. President Barack Obama has not made an announcement about a permanent nominee for the post.

EchoHawk added another position, called Deputy Assistant Secretary-Programs. The deputy will be responsible for the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development, the Office of Facilities, Environmental, and Cultural Resources.

A new Office of Trust Policy and Rights Protection will be created to oversee trust resources programs; help tribes develop their trust land and natural resource assets and oversee trust reform efforts.

In other changes, the director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the director of the Bureau of Indian Education will report directly to the Assistant Secretary. The BIA director will take over the Office of Homeland Security.

"The structure of the Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs is one that supports the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education so that they can focus on their core missions," EchoHawk said. "This realignment will ensure that all Indian Affairs employees are able to carry out their duties and responsibilities to those we serve in the most efficient and effective way possible."

Relevant Documents:
Assistant Secretary Order (September 11, 2009)