President Begaye briefs new Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney on Navajo priorities

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President Begaye briefs new Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney on Navajo priorities

WASHINGTON—President Russell Begaye met with and briefed the new Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney at the U.S. Department of the Interior on Tuesday. The president congratulated Sweeney on her new post at Interior.

“The Navajo Nation looks forward to working with Assistant Secretary Sweeney on important issues facing the Navajo Nation,” President Begaye said.

Sweeney of Alaska was sworn in as the new assistant secretary for Indian Affairs in early August. She is the first Alaska Native to serve in this Senate-confirmed post within the Trump Administration and the second woman in history to hold this position. President Trump nominated Sweeney in October 2017 and the U.S. Senate unanimously approved her nomination to serve in this top Indian affairs post at Interior on June 28, 2018. Sweeney oversees Indian affairs programs at the Department of Interior, which serves 1.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives on a variety of issues including education, public safety, economic development, energy development, and federal recognition of tribes.

In his briefing, the president discussed the importance of the rights of the Navajo families impacted by any change at the Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation (OHNIR), the future of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS), land buy-back program, the need to secure Navajo water rights, Navajo allottees rights, the Bureau of Indian Education, and Navajo’s opposition to the Bureau of Indian Affairs reorganization.

“We have many issues that we are working through including water rights, and the ownership role of the government with regards to NGS,” President Begaye said.

In the meeting, Sweeney, who comes from an oil and gas background, said she looks forward to learning more about Navajo Nation issues and will work with the Navajo Nation Washington Office to follow up on the issues raised by President Begaye.

Earlier in the day, President Begaye also met with Interior officials about NGS and Senate Committee on Indian Affairs staff regarding the Utah Navajo Water Settlement.

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