In a press release from the Department of the Interior, Sweeney, who is Inupiat from Utqiaġvik, a village also known as Barrow, offered some specific examples of her goals. She plans to work with tribes to explore "efficiencies" at the BIA and to develop "culturally relevant curriculum" at the Bureau of Indian Education. In addition to reaching out to tribes, Sweeney said she aims to develop "strong relationships" with Alaska Native corporations and Native Hawaiian organizations. Alaska is home to more than 220 tribes that enjoy a government-to-government relationship with the United States, plus regional and village Native corporations that were established pursuant to an act of Congress. “Tara is a dedicated, hard-working and fearless leader focused on providing value and real results across local, national and international boundaries,” Gabriel Kompkoff, the president of the ANCSA Regional Association, said in the department's press release. “Her passion shows through in every challenge she faces.” Native Hawaiian organizations represent the island's original inhabitants but at this point Congress has declined to extend the policy of self-determination to them. Prior Assistant Secretary nominees have mentioned Native Hawaiians but, in what appears to be a first, the department included a statement of support from a Hawaiian leader who mentioned the "first peoples" of the United States. "Ms Sweeney is an incredibly qualified nominee," said Robin Puanani Danner, the policy chair for the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement. "Her business experience, the cultural grounding of her Inuit people, and her keen understanding of living in some of the most remote Native areas in the country will serve all first peoples in her role at the Department of Interior." Sweeney's nomination will be referred to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, which is expected to hold a hearing in the coming weeks. Historically, most Assistant Secretary picks see bipartisan support at the committee level and most end up being confirmed with unanimous or near unanimous support. While Sweeney awaits action, the BIA is being led by John Tahsuda, a citizen of the Kiowa Tribe who is serving as the "acting" Assistant Secretary. His official title is Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, a post that did not require Senate confirmation.
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