It took nearly a month to announce but the Trump administration has filled a senior position at the Bureau of Indian Affairs
Indianz.Com first reported the appointment
of Gavin Clarkson
as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Economic Development on June 12. He is overseeing gaming, energy, economic development and self-governance at the BIA.
“Dr. Gavin Clarkson’s expertise in the areas of law, finance and economic development are a valuable asset to the Department of the Interior and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs as we work together with tribes to increase economic opportunity and promote self-determination throughout Indian Country,” Secretary Ryan Zinke
, the leader of the Department of the Interior
, said in a press release
Clarkson is a citizen of the Choctaw Nation
and a graduate of Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School. Though he has never served in the federal government, he has extensive experience in economic development and finance issues
in Indian Country. Those who know and work with him describe him as extremely enthusiastic.
"He’s a lawyer, an MBA, a college professor and he is like the energizer bunny,"
Jim Cason, the Associate Deputy Secretary at Interior, told tribal leaders who attended the National Congress of American Indians
mid-year conference last month.
Clarkson's position, while an important one, is not the top political job at the BIA. That would be the Assistant Secretary for
, which has yet to be filled by President Donald Trump
Both Zinke and Cason have said they expect an Assistant Secretary nominee to be announced at some point. Last month, Zinke indicated that the president already has someone lined up.
"I think the tribes are going to be thrilled," Zinke told the House Committee on Natural Resources
on June 22.
The Assistant Secretary post requires confirmation by the Senate
. Aides in the chamber have been told by the White House to expect an announcement this summer.
Clarkson's post, on the other hand, did not require Senate confirmation.
"I am excited to help tribal nations and tribal entrepreneurs create the conditions under which they can build, expand and sustain their economies," Clarkson said in the BIA's press release.
An announcement on a director for the Indian Health Service
is also expected this summer -- possibly before the BIA position.
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