Alaska Native Leader Nominated to Oversee Indian Affairs

ASRC’s Tara Sweeney Picked to Become New Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs

Tara Sweeney. Photo courtesy of ASRC.
Tara Sweeney. Photo courtesy of ASRC.

Tara Sweeney, executive vice president of external affairs for Alaska Native regional corporation Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC), has been nominated by President Donald Trump to the position of assistant secretary of Indian Affairs (AS-IA).

President Trump made the intent to nominate announcement Oct. 16 from Washington, D.C.

The role of the AS-IA is to assist and support the Interior Secretary in fulfilling the United States’ trust responsibility to federally-recognized tribes as well as individual Indian trust beneficiaries. Sweeney would oversee the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education, among other offices, and manage a nearly $3 billion budget.

“Given her more than ten years’ experience in leadership positions and roles in private, public and non-profit organizations, and her active engagement in Native American policy development and advocacy, Ms. Sweeney is particularly well qualified for this appointment,” said CIRI President and CEO Sophie Minich in a letter of support. “She is well respected and knows how to build coalitions and lead teams – skills that will enable her to accomplish the policies and directions set by the Administration. She will provide excellent advice and counsel to the Secretary of Interior and the White House from her strong background and knowledge of promoting Alaska Native rights, cultural values and economic sustainability.”

Originally from Utqiaġvik (Barrow), Sweeney has served ASRC for nearly 20 years in a variety of roles. As executive vice president of external affairs, she oversees all facets of the corporation’s media and government relations and communications. Sweeney earlier served as chair of the Artic Economic Council, was honored in 2008 as a “Top 40 Under 40” business leader by the Alaska Journal of Commerce, and has served on numerous business and nonprofit boards, including the Alaska Federation of Natives. Sweeney holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University.

Dept of Interior