Committee approves nomination of Alaska’s Sweeney to U.S. Indian Affairs

Tara Sweeney gives her testinomy at the Indian Affairs Committee, on May 9th, 2018. (United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs)
Alaskan Tara Sweeney’s nomination to be Assistant Interior Secretary for Indian Affairs cleared a U.S. Senate Committee today with no opposition – though there may still be one hang-up.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski said the committee should listen to the many Alaska Native and Native American groups that wrote letters endorsing Sweeney.

“We’ve got supportive groups including NCAI (National Congress of American Indians), the United South and Eastern Tribes. Many many more,” Murkowski said. “There’s virtually no opposition from Indian Country and I think that is important.”

Holdup due to shareholder status

Sweeney was in limbo for months while the administration tried to figure out how to treat her status as a shareholder in an Alaska Native corporation. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said he’s satisfied.

“I was glad to hear Ms. Sweeney commit to recuse herself from any matters, and I quote now, ‘directly affecting or with respect to the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation,’ including oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” Udall said.

But Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said she wants more clarification about the possibility of an exception to Sweeney’s conflict-of-interest recusal.

“I will be seeking (an answer) in writing, before a Senate vote, whether she does plan to seek a waiver in the future,” Cantwell said. “I’d like her to just answer yes or no in writing.”

The Indian Affairs Committee took a voice vote to advance Sweeney’s nomination to the Senate floor. No word yet on when it will come before the full Senate.

Related stories from around the  North:

Canada: Indigenous participation in research key to improving health outcomes, says expert, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Business vs. environment debate hurts Northeners, says Arctic Economic Council, Eye on the Arctic

Greenland: Inuit in Canada and Greenland seek co-management of crucial Arctic habitat, Radio Canada International

Norway: Aili Keskitalo new president of Norway’s Sami Parliament, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russia plans fenced parks to confine reindeer herding in Arctic, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Report sheds light on Swedish minority’s historic mistreatment, Radio Sweden

United States: Senators tell Alaska’s Sweeney to be tough and ethical at U.S. Indian Affairs, Alaska Public Media

Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media

For more news from Alaska visit Alaska Public Media.

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